Name: Noah Griffith
Where do you call home? I am from Salem, Alabama originally, which is where my family lives, but I go to college in Auburn, Alabama.
Education (degree(s): I am currently a junior at Auburn studying journalism. I also work as a sports writer and editor for my school’s student newspaper, and I aspire to be an analyst or some kind of beat writer for an MLB team. My current goal is to excel in all my classes and earn the best grades that I can while getting experience as a journalist and learning a lot along the way. I am looking forward to my graduation in December of 2023. I think FA has led me down this path because I loved playing sports as a kid, but since I am not able to anymore, I turned to writing as a way to stay involved with sports without being on the field or court myself. FA has made caused some challenges in my journey as a sports writer so far with arenas and fields being so difficult to navigate, but I am learning how to deal with that as I go, and I hope to make people aware of the fact that people working in sports can need accommodations too, not just fans, because many media rooms and press boxes are not at all accessible, but simple adjustments can be made to change that. I recently wrote an article on the lack of accessibility in Auburn’s Arena and the University responded and made changes as a result of that. This was amazing to see how I can make a difference even just as a student journalist, and I know I have a diverse perspective that will benefit a lot of people to hear.
Who do you live with? I currently live in an apartment at college with two roommates and am hoping to get a service dog at some point this year! However, I am not far from home, so I go home to see my family on the weekends a good bit.
What's a typical day for you? On a typical day, I go to class, eat lunch on campus, do homework and then cover any sporting events or do any writing assignments I have for the day. I also like to watch sports whenever possible and go to Auburn games. I am a huge Braves fan and Atlanta sports supporter, and I’ll watch just about any college football or basketball game. I also like to play video games with my friends at the end of the day to wind down when I have time. Realistically, I would work out every day, but with such a busy schedule I don’t always.
How long have you known you are living with FA? I was diagnosed with FA about four years ago just before my 17th birthday in April of 2018. At that point, I had been experiencing symptoms of FA for a few years since I was about 14. After seeing many local doctors, no one could figure out the problem until I was sent to a neurologist at UAB who did genetic testing to confirm my diagnosis.
Are there any others with FA in your family? Nope. I am the one and only.
Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. I walked unassisted all the way through high school and at the beginning of college, but my balance made it to where I became nervous about falling when walking on campus and at the gym because of fatigue, so I began using a walking stick and then a walker in 2020, and I still use a walker, but I am more dependent on it now. One thing about being on a college campus is I walk a lot, so I hope that will help me keep my strength and walking ability as long as possible.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests? Some hobbies I enjoy doing are, first off, watching sports as I mentioned. I am a big fan of Atlanta pro sports, as well as Auburn and Alabama college athletics (don’t let my Auburn friends see the Alabama part!) I also like bass fishing, playing video games, riding my Catrike, lifting weights, and writing.
What is a good trick to make daily life easier? I wish I knew more of them. I try to always take time to slow down and enjoy the day no matter how busy. Life with FA can be overwhelming, but I try to make the best of it. Take a deep breath and be thankful for life. I try to talk to my family when I have time, spend time outdoors when it’s a nice day (Auburn’s campus is absolutely beautiful), and enjoy the little things. My load feels lighter when I live with a grateful attitude.
When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? Whenever FA gets me down or I’m having a hard day, I try to take my mind off of things for a little bit by playing video games, texting my FA friends, listening to music or going to get coffee. I’ve learned that keeping my struggles to myself is never the best option. Even when I feel lonely, my FA friends have probably gone through or are going through the same things I am, and my family is always there to listen and help in whatever way possible. Once again, slowing down and praying or enjoying the little things makes my situation seem better. Obviously, it doesn’t make my problems go away, but it helps tremendously to know I’m not alone.
What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? FA has positively affected my life by teaching me to be grateful for my physical abilities because they might not be around forever. I wish I would’ve enjoyed playing sports more as a kid and being able to run and walk around endlessly without having to worry about falling, but now I do enjoy what I can do. For example, I thank God every day for my ability to walk. There are countless other things I try to cherish now: like my eyesight, strength, and ability to drive.
What is a favorite motivational quote of yours? My favorite motivational quote is: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do keep moving forward.” – MLK Jr.
What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? The best advice I could give to someone who has recently been diagnosed with FA is to be okay with asking for help. It does not make you helpless or needy. That is what I used to think, but in reality, most people are happy to help. Asking people for help has not only made things easier on me, but I have also got the opportunity to talk to some great people because of it and maybe even spread awareness of FA because of it.
What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? When a cure for FA is found, I will no doubt be training in the gym and at PT to regain my balance, but once I do that I will be shooting hoops and hitting bombs on the baseball field. I also think it would be fun to go to a trampoline park and jump around, and probably just hit the griddy.
"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? I think the quote “I have FA, but FA doesn’t have me” means I still have control over many aspects of my life. While there are some things I can’t control, life goes on and there will always be things to smile about. With FA, sometimes it is hard to see through the fatigue and the pain, but life is always what you make it in the end. I try to think about the things in my life as things I get to do instead of things I have to do.
Tell us a little more about you… A few fun facts about me is that I love to eat chicken fingers, steak and mac and cheese. Sweet tea is unarguably the best drink, and if you haven’t had it, come to Alabama or Georgia and try it. It will probably change your life. Also come visit me. We need more FAers in Alabama (it’s not as bad as people make it sound). Follow me on Instagram @noah.griffith.26 or Twitter @NoahGG01