My name is Richard Currier (Richie), I am 34 years old and I live in Winthrop, Massachusetts. Winthrop is a small, seaside town bordering Boston to the northeast. My father grew up there and my parents still live there. My mother is originally from Ireland.
I have a brother named Sean who is four years younger than I am. We have always been close. I'm quite proud of Sean, he's a Sailor in the United States Navy. Sean and I had the typical childhood and adolescence and we were always close growing up. My extended family also lives in Winthrop - my grandparents (on my Dad's side), aunts and uncles. I have many relatives in Ireland, too.
I was always active in sports as a kid. I particularly loved baseball, basketball and soccer. Most of my closest friends also participated in athletics and we had a lot of fun playing in games together and all the other typical kid stuff growing up.
By the time I was in my mid teens I found that, unlike earlier in my life, I couldn't quite perform in sports at the same level as my friends. The changes came on gradually but steadily and by the time I was a senior I found myself spending more time supporting my friends who were playing than actively participating myself.
After graduating from Winthrop High School in 1996 I went to Salem State College to study business management and graduated in 2002.
During my freshman year at Salem State, my free and independently physical moving life was altered with the diagnosis of Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA). I remember that day well, after hearing the diagnosis I remember going upstairs in my grandmother’s house and sobbing. None of us had ever heard of it, and nobody in my extended family had any form of Muscular Dystrophy. My girlfriend, Maria, was my rock and continues to push me every day since then. She has never left my side; we were married in 2005 and have three wonderful and healthy daughters, Gabriela, Mia and Audra.
Fortunately, my FA is on the milder side and it has slowly progressed in the years since I was first diagnosed. It hasn’t stopped me from accomplishing my goals and going on with my life, though I’ve had to make adaptations. Since 2003, I have used a wheelchair and my independence has diminished.
As dismal as the outlook is for my future, no cure as of yet, I look at the positive. What kind of a role model would I be If I continued sobbing and felt bad for myself? I have worked full-time for the past nine and a half years, ride a modified bike and continue to do anything physical that FA allows me to do. I wish I could run and share the passion I have for sports with my wife and kids, but FA only allows me to share that in a modified way and frankly, I am not good at performing things that require fine motor skills.
I am in the process of participating in my second clinical trial and I am confident one day there will be a cure. I want to drive again, run, and help out in more ways around the house. Until the day of a cure is reality I will be sitting in my wheelchair with my three kids, laughing, draped on me and my beautiful wife sitting next to me; I will be patiently smiling!