In early May, the Van Schoik family hosted a party at their Bogart home where more than 100 people attended, two bands performed, the weather was perfect and visitors danced until the late hours.
"We had a blast," Nelda Van Schoik said. "It was a lot of fun."
However, the fun was underscored by the serious reason the party was held. Two of Nelda and Robert Van Schoik's three daughters - 26-year-old Robbi and 23-year-old Becca - suffer from Friedreich's Ataxia, and the gathering, which included a silent auction, was held to raise money and awareness for the disease.
According to the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance, the disease is an inherited one that causes progressive damage to the nervous system, resulting in symptoms ranging from weakness and speech problems to heart disease. There is no cure for Friedreich's Ataxia, although researchers have been able to establish treatments to deal with some of the symptoms and complications from the disorder.
In the past three years, the Van Schoiks have been able to raise about $35,000 for the Virginia-based FARA, an organization founded in part by parents whose children suffer from the disease.