We, at the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), are deeply saddened to inform you of the passing of Keith Andrus on January 22, 2010. Keith was the beloved son of FARA President Ron Bartek and his wife Raychel. Keith's diagnosis of Friedreich's ataxia inspired Raychel and Ron to pick up that torch, joining him in his fight, and found FARA. Even during the final and very challenging months of Keith's life he courageously continued to not only advocate for himself but for others with FA as he left no stone unturned exploring advanced and experimental treatment options. Keith also made the decision to make the ultimate contribution to research at the end of his life with the donation of his tissues so that research will continue. Because of Keith many thousands have hope for a treatment for FA. Thank you, Keith.
We often quote Ron as saying, "Acting alone there is little any of us can accomplish whereas acting together there is little we will not accomplish." These words are deeply rooted in the FARA culture- the way we pursue treatments and a cure for FA, and today they also serve as a source of comfort in this time of great sadness. While our hearts break for the Andrus/ Bartek Family, we feel the collective strength of our greater FA family. You stand beside us in our work every day. You hold us up. You push us forward. In this time of grief, you are present and our commitment to and sense of urgency for the FARA mission does not waiver.
If you wish to extend personal condolences to the Barteks, you can do so by mail at: 4505 Wakefield Drive, Annandale, VA 22003 A memorial service will be held on Saturday January 30, 2010 at 11am at St. Matthew's Methodist Church, 8617 Little River Turnpike; Annandale, VA 22003-3604. At Keith's request, FARA has established a memorial fund, designated to cardiac research in FA, for contributions made in Keith's memory.
We are grateful to Ron, Raychel and Keith for making their journey with FA into a greater alliance of families and for the FA research progress born out of that alliance.
The FARA Board of Directors & Staff