'Luck' of the Irish

Barry Rice has had to adapt to Friedreich’s Ataxia in every aspect of his life in Dublin, Ireland: moving his family to a house next door to his parents; now working from home, adjusting his family business ShutterCo; and becoming more conscious of his health, being forced to find new ways to exercise. In his teen years, he began noticing subtle signs of weakening coordination. After seven years of seeking the cause of his symptoms, Barry was diagnosed with FA, slight scoliosis, and cervical dystonia in January 2013 at the age of 32.

The terms `lucky` and `rare, progressive disease` don`t normally go together, but all things considered; I do feel quite lucky. I have a supportive family, a loving wife, and a sweet daughter.

Through his struggle to cope with his diagnosis, Barry came across Ride Ataxia, its founder Kyle Bryant, and FARA.

I was encouraged because of FARA to learn that research into finding a cure is ongoing. It was reassuring to see that FA didn`t stop Kyle, and many others like him, living full and active lives. My impressions of Kyle’s sincere pursuits simply made me think, `I could do that!’

And so he began his journey, soon discovering that riding a recumbent trike gives freedom and strength to what Friedreich’s Ataxia can so quickly take away. Barry applied and received an Ataxian Athlete Initiative (AAI) grant just months after learning he had FA Last fall, he flew to the U.S. to visit the Catrike factory in Orlando, Florida and began riding his new Catrike at the Ride Ataxia event held nearby. He was greeted by hundreds of supporters, cyclists, FARA, and Kyle Bryant. Barry was inspired, nonetheless, to take back home the hope sparked by Ride Ataxia Orlando and the generosity of our FAmily at Catrike.


BarryRiceUpon his return home, Barry passed on his previous trike to a young girl in Ireland also with FA in the hopes that she, too, will gain strength and inspiration. Because traveling to Ride Ataxia fundraisers in the U.S. is not easy, he began organizing a new event to involve Ataxia Ireland, the Irish Wheelchair Association, and FARA. Cycle Ataxia is a ride to raise research dollars for Friedreich’s Ataxia, fund equipment and services to the disabled community, and spread awareness that a cure will be found with everyone’s help. The first annual Cycle Ataxia will take place on Sunday, August 10th, 2014, located just north of Dublin, Ireland in Ashbourne, County Meath. The event is open to the public and all are welcome to participate.

Barry Rice’s support for the FA community has been crucial to fundraising in Ireland. Unfortunately, Friedreich’s Ataxia leaves devastation all around the world. Raising awareness must be intercontinental. FARA will reach far and wide to find a cure! Barry rides to help find the cure even faster.


“My diagnosis of FA has given even more purpose to life.”


Check it Out!

Extra! Extra! Listen to Barry’s radio interview on RTE Radio 1!
Also read more about his pursuits to cure FA, featured as the cover story in IWA’s Summer 2014 SpokeOut magazine!

Please visit Cycle Ataxia on Facebook and spread the word!

Cycle Ataxia Cycling IrelandCycle Ataxia would not be possible without the support from so many, and Cycling Ireland, who strive to keep the sport of cycling fun and safe for everyone.
The Ataxian Athlete Initiative grant program is a competitive grant application process that provides funding for equipment enabling individuals to start or further pursue adaptive cycling.



A 'Spotlight' post wiil be featured on the FARA Ambassador Program blog on the third Thursday of each month to recognize some of the people living extraordinarily in the face of Friedreich's Ataxia. We are thankful for everyone working so hard to support the search for treatment and a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia! We hope that each post on this blog will be a source of encouragement to you.
Together we WILL cure FA!