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Ataxia rider on the attack

Kyle Bryant has endured another lengthy ride to raise funds to battle the Friedreich’s ataxia that ravages his body, and he’s already talking about another journey.

Bryant, 26, and a 2000 Bear River High School graduate, rode his tricycle from the steps of the State Capitol to Las Vegas during the past two weeks of March, taking 13 days to reach The Flamingo Hotel.

His first fundraising ride took him from San Diego to Memphis last year to attend the National Ataxia Foundation’s annual convention. He raised $100,000 on that trip for research into the sometimes fatal condition that attacks muscles and causes Bryant to walk with a stilted gait and have slightly slurred speech.



Bryant performed his first trip solo, with his uncle Steve Bryant and dad Mike Bryant sometimes riding along to provide support throughout the trip. This time, 15 people completed the entire 650-mile trip and, with their donations, brought the total raised to $250,000.

“It was real intense this time because we had so many people involved to take care of,” Kyle Bryant said Monday from his job in Sacramento.




“Physically, this trip was more demanding; it was only two weeks” as opposed to two months for the first one, Kyle said. “We didn’t have any rest days, so we were cycling or preparing for the next day the whole time. It was relentless but it made getting to Las Vegas more satisfying.”

Bryant uses a low tricycle to ride, where he sits between two front wheels and the third in back because of the balance concerns brought on by his affliction. One of the people on the Las Vegas ride and fellow Friedreich’s ataxia patient, Sam Bridgeman of Seattle, also used the tricycle.

“The desert was a bit of a challenge,” said Mike Bryant, who went on the ride with his brother Steve Bryant again, this time completing it. “From Bakersfield to Tehachapi was a 4,000-foot climb in one day.”

The group completed another 4,000-foot climb across the California-Nevada border a few days later, Kyle said.

“You just get into low gear and a flow” to make the steep pull, Kyle said.

The riders raised $135,000 from donors and when they got to the convention in Las Vegas, they received another $115,000 from the ataxia foundation and the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance.

The $250,000 will be split into two $125,000 research grants, with requests for proposals and applications for the grants being made available on the Web sites ataxia.org/ and curefa.org/.

“It doesn’t end there,” Kyle said from his desk after riding 12 miles into work. “We have plans to go to the meeting in Seattle” for the 2009 National Ataxia Foundation convention in late April.

“It will be a real challenge with the weather: it’s wet, windy and cold up there, but we’ll do it, you can count on that,” Kyle said. “We’re still taking donations that will roll over to next year’s ride” to pay expenses and bolster the research.

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


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