At 9 am on the morning of May 15, 2016, a large crowd gathered at the trailhead at Fowler Park in Cumming, Georgia. Onlookers stared: why were all these adults riding tricycles? By the end of the day they would take home some inspirational stories about the rare disease Friedreich’s ataxia, and the people who wouldn’t give up without a fight. This was rideATAXIA Atlanta.
Of course, the 50 and 25 mile rides had started earlier that morning. But at Fowler Park we were gathered for the 8-mile trail. Kyle Bryant, rideATAXIA Founder/Director, started us on a chant of “Cure FA!” before entering the trail and leading the rest of us forward. This girl (me) only made it 3 miles, but my friends, my teammates, total strangers - so many people made it the whole eight miles! It was awesome. You couldn’t go far without running into a group of rideATAXIA cheerleaders; when I didn’t think I was doing well they gave me the push to keep going. In fact, my friend Colleen, who drove all the way from New Orleans to support rideATAXIA, said this was her favorite part. Everyone was so encouraging even though, she says, “no one even knew who I was!”
After the Ride, we gathered for hamburgers generously provided by Outback Steakhouse. After a round of thank yous to sponsors and supporters, Kyle distributed certificates to recognize the top fundraisers. Over $40,000 was raised for this, Atlanta’s inaugural rideATAXIA! The turnout, both physical and donation-wise, was incredible. But what was better was the sense of community: for the day we came together to fight FA, to support each other, and make new friends. The FA community is incredible!
After lunch and recognitions, we all filed outside to greet the day’s final rider, Sam Bridgman, as he completed the 25 mile course on his handcycle! I’m sure he was exhausted, but his ride was so inspiring. The FA community finishes what they start, like Sam. We are all in the fight against FA together and we will accomplish our goal. We will CURE FA!
Thank you to FARA, Kyle, Jamie Young, the Stacks family and the planning committee for making this event happen and to Outback Steakhouse for the great food. Every single one of the sponsors, donors, and volunteers was undeniably a huge part of the day’s success!