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Team FARA Blog

Team FARA members are running, walking, biking and swimming for FA research around the world.

While they are geographically dispersed, Team FARA is united with the same goal: to draw attention to FA through acts of physical endurance and to support the advancement of FA research towards treatments and a cure for FA.

About FARA

FARA Mission / Organization

The Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) is a national, public, 501(c)(3), non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to the pursuit of scientific research leading to treatments and a cure for Friedreich's ataxia.

FARA's Mission | FARA's Strategy | FARA's Activities
FARA's Approach to Treatment | Research Ripple Effect

FARA's Mission is to marshal and focus the resources and relationships needed to cure FA by raising funds for research, promoting public awareness, and aligning scientists, patients, clinicians, government agencies, pharmaceutical companies and other organizations dedicated to curing FA and related diseases.

About Friedreich's ataxia

What is Friedreich's Ataxia?

Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) is a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder. About one in 50,000 people in the United States have Friedreich's ataxia. Onset of symptoms can vary from childhood to adulthood. Childhood onset of FA is usually between the ages of 5 and 15 and tends to be associated with a more rapid progression. Late onset FA (LOFA) can occur anytime during adulthood. FARA is supporting research that will improve the quality and length of life for those diagnosed with Friedreich's ataxia and will lead to treatments that eliminate its symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms
  • loss of coordination (ataxia) in the arms and legs
  • fatigue - energy deprivation and muscle loss
  • vision impairment, hearing loss, and slurred speech
  • aggressive scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
  • diabetes mellitus (insulin - dependent, in most cases)
  • a serious heart condition (enlarged heart - hypertrophic cardiomyopathy)

Meet the Team

Team FARA’s 4 members will ride for 30 minutes each before trading positions with a rider in a vehicle.  This strategy will allow the team to have at least one rider on the move 24 hours a day.  The team will travel the 3000 mile route in less than 9 days.

The team is made up of 4 cyclists who are dedicated to the FARA cause and who have participated in cycling events as a team in the past.

RAAM Facts and Tidbits

RAAM is the toughest endurance event in the world; a non-stop, continuous race in which cyclists ride as fast as they can, 3,000 miles, from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland.

RAAM participants face challenges beyond the bike riding that include scorching heat, violent winds, thunderstorms, and even tornadoes, altitude, the dark of night, sleep deprivation, muscle injuries, organized crew coordination, navigation, and mental acuity.

Over 250 courageous athletes will race in June, supported by an entourage of over 1000 people, and representing 13 countries and 26 US states.

Competitors dedicate their race to over 30 charities around the world, benefiting organizations fighting cancer, leukemia, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and Hutchinson’s Disease, and others, foundations that assist families of the American military, children’s associations and community groups.

When asked their motivation for racing, many RAAM participants mention the desire to demonstrate the champion in us all, to show the power of believing in yourself--and sometimes in a higher power, regardless of obstacles.

Each year, a number of solo racers and teams set incredible speed records for their category (based on number of teammates, sex and age range). In general, the 1st place solo rider will cross the finish line in 8-9 days, with an overall average speed of 11-12 mph. Four- or eight-person teams will normally finish in 5 – 8 days, and two-person teams in 7 – 10 days.


What Are Race Categories for RAAM?

Categories of the Race Across America include Solo, 2-Person, 4-Person, 8-Person. Within these categories they are further breakdowns for age, gender and different types of bikes such as tandems and recumbents.

How Much Support Does RAAM Provide?

RAAM oversees functions at the start and the finish and recruits staff for each Time Station. Each Racer must provide their own support crew and support vehicles. A typical crew is 8-12 people and 2-4 vehicles. It’s the responsibility of the crew to care for the racers by providing food, clothing, medical care, bicycle repair, massage, entertainment and directions. Crewing for RAAM Racers is as much of a challenge as riding is. It offers some immense rewards of seeing the country, building some lifelong friendships and the pride of getting your racer safely across the country.

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