Meet David Layton Jr

Name: David Layton Jr

Age: 30

Where do you call home? New Jersey, USA

What is your education? I have my bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Rowan University in New Jersey. I currently don’t pursue sports writing because with FA it would be too hard to perform daily tasks needed for that kind of job.

Who do you live with? My dad

What’s a typical day for you? I work four days a week, so a typical day for me would be waking up, getting ready for work. I work from 10-5 every day. I work at a car performance shop. We customize high-end cars for professional athletes, rappers etc. I’m in parts, so I get wheels, tires, tint material, car wrap material etc. for the customers. I really like what I do for now and it is very suitable for my disease. After work, I typically get a small workout if it’s lifting weights or riding a stationary bike. Then I eat dinner with my dad, discuss the day and usually put on a sporting event to watch and call it a night.

How long have you known you are living with FA? When and how were you diagnosed? I got diagnosed at 17. My side effects were so mild until about 22 when I noticed a significant change in my walking. My sister has FA too unfortunately she was diagnosed before me, and her symptoms were a lot more obvious than mine.

Describe an adaptation and/or transition you have had to take due to living with FA. My disease is a lot different than normal patients with FA. I walk with no assistance aids. I walk very slowly and usually process every step I’m taking. Around 22-27 my walking was definitely noticeable, but I didn’t have to use walls and everything else to steady myself. Now I still walk but use the walls a lot more to my advantage. I never tried to use a walker and I use a wheelchair for long distances such as airports, sporting events, malls, etc.What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? I love working out. It is one of my favorite things to do. My gym is located 5 minutes away, so I try to weight train 2-3 times a week plus I use the stationary bike and pullup bar a few times a week at my house. Not only does it help my physical strength, but working out for me is an escape where I can just put in headphones and zone out, so it is great for mental health too.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests? Yes, I love to workout, read, travel, watch sports and play some video games with my friends.

What is a good trick to make daily life easier? To not think negatively –– everyone is dealing with someone if it’s not physical, it is mental. We are all in a fight somehow even if you can’t see it.

When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? Positivity and the law of attraction are huge to me. You attract what you feel. Don’t sweat the small stuff and just work on improving yourself somehow every day.

What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? I look at life totally different now, life can throw some crazy obstacles in your path, but got to keep moving forward.

What is a favorite motivational quote of yours? Play the hand you are dealt.

What is a piece of advice that someone with FA has given you that encourages and inspires you? I was taking part in a trial at CHOP Philadelphia and walking past the rooms of sick little kids made me really put my life in perspective. They didn’t say or give me advice, but their presence encouraged me to never give up on life. I played sports, lived a normal life until 22. They unfortunately won’t be able to and that was very tough to see and think about.

What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? Keep trying to improve yourself daily and don’t worry about what other people think about you.

What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? Coach wrestling. I wrestled from 4-16 and it was a huge part in my life and still is. I’m still very knowledgeable on the sport and I want to give back what taught me so much

“I have FA but FA doesn’t have me.” What does this statement mean to you? Yes, I have a disease it sucks, but there is way more to life then walking and talking differently. Life is harder, but not impossible. Sitting in your room mopping all day is no way to handle anything, you gotta get out there and live!

How do you live your life in the face of adversity? I love the challenge do I wish I never had FA, of course. But with living with FA I face adversity every day and it makes me stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.

Tell us a little more about you… I am 30, I have three tattoos with more on the way, I love to read, travel, workout, and beach/bonfires. My favorite sport is wrestling. I’m a diehard New Orleans Saints fan and I really want to attend a home game in New Orleans.

Did your diagnosis impact your friendships and relationships? If so, in what way? At first it did, my boys really didn’t understand why I didn’t wanna go out to the bars with them. But over time they got to understand more and more about my diagnosis. And now they all understand, I still see them all a lot, but just in a different more comfortable scene. It made us even closer than before. I am very grateful for having such supportive friends in my life.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Definitely Hawaii, I took a trip there when I was 18 and loved it. Such a beautiful place and made me want to live out there for a year or two. Maybe someday!

Interviewed by
Brittany Sommerfield