December 21, 1985 - January 22, 2010
Keith was born just before Christmas 1985 and diagnosed with Friedreich's ataxia when he was in the 5th grade. Even though he eventually used a wheelchair full time, he didn't want to be defined by the wheelchair.
Keith had a huge shoe collection with over 20 pairs, mainly Adidas and Lugz.
He also had 11 tattoos. One tattoo across his chest read: "How much time do we have?" He knew his life might be shortened by Friedreich's Ataxia but he's enjoyed every day to the fullest.
Keith was the inspiration for the formation of FARA. Keith’s diagnosis of Friedreich’s ataxia at the age of 11 led his step-father and mother, Ron and Raychel Bartek, to establish FARA. Keith’s battle with FA ended, January 22, 2010, at the age of 24 due to congestive heart failure. Even during the final and very challenging months of Keith's life he courageously continued to advocate not only for himself but for others with FA as he left no stone unturned exploring advanced and experimental treatment options.
As a tribute to Keith's legacy and to help improve the lives of others diagnosed with FA, the Keith Michael Andrus Memorial Award was established. This award is specifically designated for cardiac research. Past grantees include:
- December 2013
Dr. Martin Delatycki - Interstitial fibrosis, the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and biomarkers in the cardiac disease of Friedreich ataxia
- July 2013
Drs. Mark Payne and Matt Hirshey - Mitochondrial Protein Acetylation and Heart Failure in Friedreich’s Ataxia
- November 2011
Dr. Francisco Sacca - A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial to test the efficacy of Epoetin alfa on physical performance of FA patients
- November 2010
Dr. Arnulf Koeppen - The cardiomyopathy of Friedreich's ataxia