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FARA Ambassador Program

The FARA Ambassadors is a united team of patient volunteers living with FA who are committed to supporting FARA in the search for a treatment and cure.

Together we seek to know more about FA, and FARA so we can be prepared to represent the community when the opportunity arises; speaking at events, to volunteers, potential donors, scientific groups, pharma partners, media interviews and other awareness and fundraising opportunities. We believe support is key to continued success toward our ultimate goal of treatment and a cure. Participants in the FARA Ambassador Program are passionate about building and upholding relationships within the FA community.

FARA Ambassador Program Mission Statement:

The FARA Ambassadors are positive, supportive, peer representatives for the FA community, actively raising awareness and funds for FARA. To learn more about the FARA Ambassador Program or to have a FARA Ambassador speak at your event, please contact:

The Ambassador Blog

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This blog is a vehicle for the voice of the FARA Ambassador Program and features posts from Program participants and friends from the FA community on a wide range of topics.

The blog features posts about FARA events, articles about living with FA, spotlights on individuals throughout the FA community, weekly interviews to “Meet the Community,” and more. We hope that you will be inspired, uplifted and encouraged through the FARA Ambassador Blog!


Emily and Andrea

Name: Emily Therens

Age: 14

Where do you call home? Spokane, Washington

Are you married? Kids? Single parent? Haha, enjoying being a teen!

Occupation/Employment: Freshman at Shadle Park High School.

How long have you been living (or known you are living) with Friedreich's Ataxia? I was just recently diagnosed but I have been living with symptoms (poor balance, falling, fatigue, fainting, problems with my hands) for several years. My Mom asked my doctor about this at every single visit but no one took her seriously.

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Read more: Emily and Andrea

Pfizer and FARA: Rare Disease Community Outreach

On September 9, 2014, FARA was invited to visit Pfizer as part of their Rare Disease Community Outreach Program. I was lucky enough to be asked to participate on FARA’s behalf and share my personal stories about Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) and the impact the disease has had on both my life and my family. Pfizer is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world; they have committed to drug discovery in FA and they and we are hopeful that those discoveries will be part of the treatments that will someday lead to a cure!

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Read more: Pfizer and FARA: Rare Disease Community Outreach

Spotlight on Patrick Cogan

Born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts, Patrick Cogan is a very accomplished 30 year old man, who is also very independent and very driven. He studied Marketing at Salem State College. He works as a clerk and would seem to be your average guy, except he is not. Everyone has a story, and he let me play "reporter" for this month's spotlight. He is a busy man - when he is not working, he is training for and competing in triathlons and traveling to schools throughout MA - to speak to children and young adults. He is about pushing yourself further and overcoming adversity, all while giving back.

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USF Scientific Symposium and FARA Energy Ball 2014

The 6th annual FARA/USF Health Scientific Symposium took place at the USF Health Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in Tampa, FL on Thursday, September 4, 2014. Researchers, clinicians, patients and families gathered together to hear upcoming research, possible treatments and patients’ inspiring stories of living with Friedreich’s Ataxia. This year’s focus was “what a difference a year makes” and all these three components were touched upon.

The FARA Energy Ball is an event held to benefit funds and research for FARA and USF Ataxia Research Center. $1.8 million was raised for research on Saturday, September 6th! Please read below for personal experiences shared by those living with FA...

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Read more: USF Scientific Symposium and FARA Energy Ball 2014

Ashley Dodson

Name: Ashley Dodson

Age: 30

Where do you call home? Alabama

Occupation/Employment: I'm a wife and I clean my house, that is my job. :)

How long have you been living (or known you are living) with Friedreich's Ataxia? I was around 8 when I was diagnosed. My teacher noticed my writing was shaky and I couldn't keep up during a spelling test, and when my sister would cut my bangs and I'd shut my eyes, I would loose my balance.

Do you have any known family history of similar symptoms to FA? No (not that I know of).

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Read more: Ashley Dodson
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