There’s an old expression, "You have to accept what comes your way in life." While that might be quaint, many consider it defeatist - that life isn’t worth fighting for if things don’t go your way. On Saturday, October 8, at St. Justin’s in Santa Clara, in front of a room filled with people, Matt Rupel told of his life dealing with a horrible disease.

"The fact is, I’m not okay with [having Friedreich's ataxia]. It’s not okay to know that Phillip [Bennett] died...I had faith the wheelchair would never come, or if it did, it would only be for short periods of time. I have faith that I will always keep fighting. But ,if I fight this alone, I will fail. But, if you will walk behind, I have faith that I’ll never surrender."

Diagnosed with Friedreich's ataxia (FA) at age 12, Rupel turns 21 this week. Now a student at Santa Clara University, Rupel saw his childhood dreams of what he would be when he grew up taken away from him by a disease that affects 1 in 50,000.

Read More: Faith, Friedreich’s Ataxia in the Heart — Shoot for the Cure