Friedreich's ataxia forces Nicole Kramer to use a walker to help with an unsteady gait, but the 19-year-old Villa Park woman finds freedom while cruising the neighborhood on her new custom cycle. She plans to ride in next Sunday's Ride Ataxia fundraiser through the southern suburbs.

A girl who grew up playing all kinds of sports, Nicole Kramer of Villa Park was 14 when she began having troubles with her back, coordination, balance and breathing. As doctors conducted tests on myriad potential causes, one mentioned to the girl's mother a worst-case scenario of a rare, unlikely and cruel disease called Friedreich's Ataxia.

Read More: Villa Park teen rides to raise money for her rare disorder