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Cycling trip raises awareness

Kyle Bryant’s battle against the neuromuscular disease that attacked him in high school is turning into a life quest.

The 2000 Bear River High School grad who has cycled 3,100 miles in two cross-county trips gathering money to battle Friedreich’s ataxia is planning a third trip from Portland, Ore., to Seattle, Wash. in March.

“It’s developing into something far beyond me and my family,” said Bryant, 27, an environmental engineer. “We’re working very closely now with the National Ataxia

Foundation and the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance” to raise another $100,000 for the Kyle Bryant Research Award, which funds grants to research the disorder.

The rare disease, which has no cure, attacks muscles and causes Bryant to walk with a stilted gait and slur his speech. It causes progressive coordination loss and usually lands the victims in wheelchairs.

Bryant uses his wheelchair when he needs it, and he rides a three-wheeled cycle during the trips because of his condition. He has raised $350,000 in his first two trips through personal donations and the national ataxia groups, all of it going to the

research.

The first trek was from La Jolla to Memphis, Tenn., in 2007, with little pre-publicity.

Once in Memphis, he attracted the interest of the two ataxia groups and their money at the foundation’s national convention and has been working with them ever since.

In 2008, Bryant, his family and other Team Ride Ataxia members cycled from his home in Sacramento to Las Vegas to the foundation’s national convention.

Bryant has suffered a bad knee injury and broken tricycle parts during his endeavors but always persevered.

“The rides always give me something to work for,” Bryant said, and he thinks it helps with his affliction. “It’s a shorter ride this year, but now I have to eat better and train so

it’s becoming a lifestyle thing.

“We wanted to ride from Sacramento to Seattle this time but the weather in the Pacific Northwest can be rough, so we figured four days of misery is better than 25.”

This year’s ride begins March 16 from the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland and is scheduled to end March 19 in Seattle at the Ataxia Foundation’s 52nd annual meeting.

If you want to learn more about Bryant’s quest, join the ride, or simply donate to the cause, log on to http://www.rideataxia.org. Rider applications and deposits are due Feb. 15.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.