Kyle Bryant was crowned king of his high school prom. Growing up in Sacramento, California, he spent his childhood going to school, snowboarding, playing baseball, and riding his bike around the neighborhood with his buddies. A smart, athletic, popular boy, Bryant’s future was bright. He knew early on that he was destined to do something great with his life.
Bryant was always a bit clumsy, but knee scrapes and elbow cuts are normal for an active kid. When his parents realized that his balance and coordination issues were getting worse as he grew, they started searching for answers. They traveled to different doctors and clinics for a year to find out what was going on with their son.
Bryant was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia, or FA, a genetic disease affecting about 15,000 people worldwide. Often diagnosed in children age 5 to 15, FA is a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder. The progressive loss of coordination and muscle strength leads to motor incapacitation and the full-time use of a wheelchair. According to the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Association (FARA), there are currently no treatments for FA.
So, at age 17, Kyle Bryant had to say goodbye to his dreams and face the specter of a short life lived in a wheelchair. While he grappled with this new future, he went to college at University of California at Davis, graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering. After school, he worked for five years as an engineer.