Special to the Sun
Not many people have heard of Friedreich's ataxia (FA), a neuro-muscular disease that affects one in 50,000 people in the United States. Three lifetime residents of Squirrel Valley, Joe Kent, 34, Nicole Kent, 30, and Kelly Kent, 24, were diagnosed in childhood with this progressive, genetic disease. Joe, Nicole, and Kelly developed like any other child. Each reached the same early milestones as any other child would—talking, walking, etc. But over time, they began losing coordination in their arms and legs. By their early teens, they became wheelchair bound. Some of their other symptoms include: visual impairment, hearing loss, slurred speech, and scoliosis. Friedreich's ataxia has no effect whatsoever on mental capabilities. Joe and Nicole received bachelor's degrees from C.S.U.B. and B.Y.U., while Kelly remains a permanent junior at C.S.U.B. Despite having a progressive disease wreaking havoc in their family, the Kents remain positive. Humor and their faith play important roles in their lives. The family refers to themselves as ‘the Wheelchair Brigade’ and their car as ‘the Handi Van.’
In April of last year, the 2nd Annual "Race 4 Results" 5K/10K raised $11,901.60 for the FARA (Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance), a national, public, non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to researching Friedreich’s ataxia. FARA researches FA in order to improve quality and length of life for patients and, possibly, to find a cure. At the finish line, prizes were awarded to the participants, and a bouncy house entertained children, as well as some adults. Corporate sponsors included Costco, San Joaquin Community Hospital, and Jake’s Tex Mex Restaurant.
This year the 3rd Annual "Race 4 Results" 5K/10K will take place on Saturday, March 21, at Yokuts Park in Bakersfield at 8:00 a.m. Check-in begins at 7:00 a. m. Registration for individuals is $30 and a team of four individuals is $100. The entry forms are available at bakersfieldtrackclub.com. Registration includes a T-shirt, goodie bag, and a BBQ lunch. Ending on March 13, pre-registration guarantees applicants a T-shirt. Individuals not walking/running can purchase the BBQ lunch for $6. Please join with the Kents in the fight against Friedreich's ataxia.