Abryanna Nelson - 2010

In November 2003, Abryanna woke up very sick. Her stomach was swollen and painful. Rushed to the hospital, she was experiencing kidney and liver failure in connection with cardiomiopathy, a form of heart disease. After nearly one month in Intensive Care, Abryanna was able to return home on Christmas Eve.

Everything was relatively normal until 2007, when Abryanna was continually dizzy, often falling down. Her grandmother thought this was the result of growth spurts, but when Abryanna fell face-forward on the ground and chipped a tooth, Rita knew something was seriously wrong.

After several tests, Abryanna was diagnosed with Friedrich’s Ataxia, a very rare genetic disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system and is often recognized by symptoms including gait and speech problems, as well as heart disease.

Today, Abryanna doesn’t let her walker stop her from missing roller skating parties every Friday night. Since she isn’t able to do much skating, she mostly socializes on the sidelines and wins friends easily with her smile.