Alameda Family Rides Today for Ataxia NorCal

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This weekend, an Alameda family is joining a fund-raiser in the Davis area to raise money for research and awareness of Friedreich’s Ataxia, a degenerative neuro-muscular disorder that currently lacks treatment.

George Penston and daughter Izzy, 13, will be biking in Ride Ataxia NorCal on May 31. For the event, Izzy has been training at the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Adaptive Cycling Center in Berkeley.

“Izzy was tested at age 9, when things were not quite right,” said mother Zoe. “The illness is so rare.” It affects about one out of every 50,000 people worldwide.

“Of course, when Izzy was diagnosed, we were devastated and in shock. We had no idea what to do. But she asked how they were going to fix her and how she could help.

Her daughter started raising money within the first month of her diagnosis, Zoe says. “We had a bake sale in the front yard and made a couple hundred dollars. It’s really because of her saying this is what we should do.”

She estimates that the family has raised $45,000 so far for the cause. “We will just keep doing it until they there’s no need to,” Zoe said, adding that Izzy’s brother Owen also has the disease.

Alamedans have been “very supportive of the family’s fund-raising efforts,” Zoe adds. “It’s been extremely important to us, and we are really grateful for everyone’s support. Just this month, kids and parents organized a bake sale at Edison to raise money, as they do every year.”

To donate in support of the Penston family’s cause, go to the Ride Ataxia website and click on Team Zowie. The Alameda community wishes Izzy and Owen’s family the best of luck today with their participation in the fundraiser.

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Janet Levaux