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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!


Jordan Howell

JordanHowell 2Name: Jordan Howell

Age:  37

Where do you call home? I live in Houston, Texas, but I grew up in Dallas, Texas.

Education (degree(s): I graduated from the University of North Texas in 2002. I majored in advertising and film production. I worked as the film critic for the school newspaper for 2 years. 

What is your relationship status? I am single with no children. I have not, as of yet, found the one. Maybe I'm just too ugly!

How long have you known you are living with FA? (When and how were you diagnosed?) I was diagnosed in 1994. I was 15, and it came as a complete shock. My sister had recently died of Leukemia, and I was sent to a neurologist for, what I thought was, a back related injury from BMX bike racing. I did not know very much about Friedreich's Ataxia or understand the severity of the word, "progression." In hindsight, I can see a lot of the balance issues that led to my diagnosis.

Describe your transition from walking to a wheelchair? I had minor balance issues throughout High School. I was mistaken for being drunk or on drugs many times. It became more dangerous during college. Falling down stairs or injuries from being stubborn, finally, made me seek out mobility aides. Over the course of a year, I went through AFO'S, canes, and walkers. I'm bought my first wheelchair soon after my 21st birthday. 

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Caroline Spencer

CarolineSpencerMy name is Caroline Spencer. I am 28 years old, and I live in Cincinnati, OH, with my mom and our three dogs--two small dogs and my Great Dane service dog, Clark.

I hold a Bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s degree in speech pathology from Purdue University. It was during grad school that I was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia. Like many people with FA, this diagnosis was finally a definitive answer that put all the puzzle pieces together after many years. For example, it took me a long time to learn how to ride a bike, and I had never been very athletic. I am the only one in my family, however, to have FA, so it was not something we expected. 

Professionally, the news really hit home, as my friends, teachers, and I actually were familiar with FA, or at least the speech difficulties that accompany it, from an academic point of view. Having FA has brought many challenges, but also given me the perspective of being a patient. I currently work in research, and having the experiences on both the “patient side” and “professional side” has been a benefit in many ways, and gives me an understanding that other professionals don’t have. This fall, I will start doctoral work in the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Cincinnati. I hope to be able to use my experiences to contribute to our understanding of speech and communication, especially in the context of degenerative diseases. 

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Frankie Perazzola

FrankiePerazzolaName: Frankie Perazzola

Age: 24

Where do you call home? A beautiful little town, San Pedro, California.

Education: B.A. in Communication from Arizona State University.

What's a typical day for you? Everyday is different but, I always start my day with stretching/meditation and a nice a cup of coffee. I make it a point to workout everyday and keep my mind right. I am in the process of starting my own consulting business ,so I have definitely been busy with paperwork and building my brand.

How long have you known you are living with FA? It has been a little over two years! I was officially diagnosed in June of 2015 at the age of 22.

Are there any others with FA in your family? Nope! I like to think of myself as being the lucky one in the family (:

Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair? I am still mobile as of now with the help of a cane , walker or wheelchair depending on the event or activity. Its been quite the experience learning how to adapt but I am starting to get the hang of things...I think. 

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Sam Bridgman

SamBridgman2After being diagnosed with FA at the age of 15, I had two choices. I could choose to curl up into a little ball and let FA take over, or I could choose to live my life to the fullest each and every day! With the support of my family and friends, we rose united and were not willing to let FA determine our future.

In spite of FA, I chose to Keep Moving Forward with the mentality that Impossible Is Nothing. I graduated from a 4-year university, got a job at the Nike World Headquarters, live independently with my three housemates, and am currently in graduate school at the University of South Florida.

I am 25 years old and am pursuing an MBA and Masters in Sport & Entertainment Management and completing my residency at the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning made it to the Eastern Conference Finals this year and lost Game Seven to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburg Penguins. We will come back stronger than ever next season. I hope that it will one day lead to a career in professional sports. 

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FA Hangouts - June 2017

FA Hangouts June17The FARA Ambassador Program presents an FA Hangout talking about: FA and travel. Yes, we have talked about this before! But there is always more to say about this subject. Where have you been? What did you do? What tips do you have for traveling? Learn where you want to go next.

At FA hangouts: we laugh, we connect, we hangout, we learn from and about each is so fun! It is just an informal discussion with a theme. We just talk when the theme has run its course, no pressure. People who just want to listen are very welcome!

Every hangout is open to anyone with FA and a translator if needed for hearing or speech difficulties.

When: Hangouts will be held Tuesday June 27th, Wednesday June 28th, and Thursday June 29th (mark your calendars, FA Hangouts will be the last consecutive Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the month, except on holidays and the like) at 8-9:30 PM ET all three days.

How: Email to sign up or ask questions. Google (not us!) limits hangout capacity to 10 devices. FA Hangouts do fill up. It is first come, first served. So, the earlier you sign up, the more likely you are to get the date and time you want. Lately all our hangouts have been filling up. If you signed up and can’t make it, please let us know so we can give the slot to someone else.

An email will go out (at the latest) 30 minutes prior to your assigned time with a link to join the Hangout. Feel free to come early for a pre-hang. We will open the hangout room 15 minutes early, but the topic conversations will begin at the top of the hour.

See you soon!

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