Alissa Leier with her fiancé, Nathan Patterson, and puppy, Kai.

GABR helps young woman live more independently

November 27, 2019

Story by Alissa Leier, who received funds from the Great American Bike Race (GABR) to increase her independence

My life changed forever when I was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy known as Friedreich’s ataxia at 12 years old. This disease slowly weakens every muscle in the body until walking and talking independently are impossible. My older brother also has this genetic disease, so it has been very difficult to watch him and know that I would soon have to go through the same thing.

The disease’s progression has been slow, and I was able to finish high school without a wheelchair with the help of friends and family. When I started college away from my hometown of Strasburg, I knew I would need a wheelchair to help me get around.

Insurance helped me get an electric wheelchair, but traveling with my wheelchair without a handicap accessible vehicle became an issue. I did not have a way to transport my wheelchair as it weighs hundreds of pounds.

Approaching my college graduation, I knew that I’d needed to figure out a way to get from place to place with my wheelchair in tow. I began researching and found a small, lightweight driveshaft that attaches to the back of a manual wheelchair.

The new device would allow me to ride in any vehicle for work and travel with friends and family while staying independent. This equipment wasn’t covered by my insurance, so I applied and was granted funding through GABR.

I wish I could repay everyone who has helped me in my journey thus far, and I hope that someday I will be able to give back to others through GABR. I am eternally grateful for what this organization has done to help me be as independent as possible in the future.

My goal is to pursue a career working with young adults like myself. I realize how blessed I have been with amazing family and friends, and I want to support and advocate for others who are not as fortunate.


Giving Tuesday

The first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, is an international day of giving that brings people together to support their favorite nonprofit causes. This Dec. 1, we hope you’ll choose to support GABR.

Here are a few ways you can get involved:

  1. Download a calendar reminder.
  2. For more updates and ways to get involved on Giving Tuesday, join our GABR Community on Facebook.
  3. Share the impact of GABR with your friends and family and encourage them to get involved.
  4. Join the giving movement on Dec. 1.

As always, 100% of what we raise will help kids and young adults with cerebral palsy and other conditions permanently affecting development. Your support will help them reach for the stars!