Davisites are encouraged to jump on their bikes this Saturday to help a UC Davis graduate raise funds for a rare neuromuscular disease.
Kyle Bryant is the founder of Ride Ataxia, which organizes cycling events to raise money for the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance. FARA funds research to find a cure for Friedreich’s ataxia, a debilitating degenerative disease that typically affects children and young adults.
The bike ride fundraiser will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Veterans’ Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th St. Participants will ride along scenic country roads, with optional routes of 15, 30 and 50 miles or a metric century (100 km). Outback Steakhouse will provide a post-ride meal. The event is open to riders of all abilities and ages.
Bryant was diagnosed with FA when he was 17.
“My family and I soon found out that my abilities would deteriorate over time, I would be in a wheelchair soon, I would lose the ability to take care of myself, and I would likely die a premature death due to heart failure,” he said in an email. “And to make matters worse, there is no treatment or cure.”
However, in his junior year at UCD, he learned that in Hutchison Hall, where he was working part-time, Dr. Gino Cortopassi’s lab was researching FA. He got in contact with Cortopassi, and visited the lab.
“They told me what they were working on, and though I did not understand much of what they were saying, for the first time I was filled with hope — maybe we can beat this thing,” he said.
Bryant graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 2005. When he realized that he could travel long distances under his own power on a recumbent tricycle, he began doing bike ride fundraisers with family and friends, including a 2,500-mile bike ride from San Diego to Memphis. He now organizes weekend rides across the country for FARA.
“In the past four years we have traveled over 6,500 miles, raised over a million dollars and directly funded eight research grants for a total of $960,000,” Bryant said.
Cortopassi was one of the recipients of those grants.
“It is an honor to have received the 2009 Kyle Bryant Translational Research Award,” Cortopassi said in a news release. “Our lab is highly motivated by the fact that this award was made possible by sweat, tears and many pedal strokes for the cause.”