Name: Ashley Dodson

Age: 30

Where do you call home? Alabama

Occupation/Employment: I'm a wife and I clean my house, that is my job. :)

How long have you been living (or known you are living) with Friedreich's Ataxia? I was around 8 when I was diagnosed. My teacher noticed my writing was shaky and I couldn't keep up during a spelling test, and when my sister would cut my bangs and I'd shut my eyes, I would loose my balance.

Do you have any known family history of similar symptoms to FA? No (not that I know of).

Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. I was 19 or 20 and extremely stubborn to be in a wheelchair. I wanted to complete high school wheelchair free and now knowing how much easier it would have been on me, I regret it. I would not even say wheelchair, it was so hard for me to have to stop being hardheaded and be a full time wheelchair user. It was not easy but I needed it. What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises do you do to stay strong? Shopping and being social is what I do best! As far as exercising, I do not but if running your mouth could be an exercise, I have that down pat.

What's your most comfortable pair of shoes to wear? Moccasins and tennis shoes.

Do you have a diet plan you like to follow, and why? I plan to start Nutrisystem next month because the less weight, the easier it is for me to transfer.

What is one way living with Friedreich's Ataxia has POSITIVELY affected your life? FA has made me become a woman that is not ashamed of the fact I am different.

What is the best advice you could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia? Having FA is hard and no fun but do not let it take over you and win. You are not alone and now you are apart of our Family! Always be positive and never give up!!!!!!!! I will always be here if you ever need to talk, cry, scream because I know how you feel! What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment for Friedreich's Ataxia is found? I will get some high heels and strut my booty that I have sat on way too long!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"I have FA but FA doesn't have me." What does this statement mean to you? How do you live your life in the face of adversity? My name is Ashley and yes I roll, you walk; I hear with help, you hear with no help; I talk with the FA touch, you don't; you have a heart, and so do I but mine is bigger. With all of that said it means we are both human beings but I have some extra! FA will never have Ashley but Ashley has FA for now! I try to stay and think positive sometimes its hard but I will never let FA beat me!!!!!!!!

We are stronger together! Find a new "Meet the Community" interview every Monday. Jamie