Bake Sale Could Be Stepping Stone to Changed Lives

A local bake sale slated for Sept. 25 through Oct. 6 is more than just a fun and games fundraiser but one of many fundraising stepping stones that could allow the daughter of Winnfield natives to receive a cure from a degenerative, life-shortening disease.

Kate Walker, 20, of Ruston is the daughter of Jason Walker and the late Rachael Walker, both WSHS graduates.  She was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) when she was 12.  FA is a rare debilitating neuro-muscular disorder that affects only about 5,000 in the USA and perhaps 15,000 worldwide.  Symptoms include loss of balance and coordination, fatigue, vision and hearing loss.  It is typically diagnosed in individuals ages 5 to 15.

While this genetic disorder has bound Kate to a wheelchair, it does not affect the cognitive ability of patients nor has it impaired the determination of Kate and her family from supporting scientific research that could lead to the treatment and cure of Friedreich’s ataxia.  The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) is a national public 501(c)(3) dedicated to supporting this research into FA.

The Walker Family, in turn, has established its own 501(c)(3) called “Make It Happen CureFA,” also committed to finding a cure and providing assistance to those impacted by FA and rare diseases through its support of FARA.

The major fundraising effort for FARA is the annual Ride Ataxia Dallas with the next one set Nov. 4.  With three difference skill courses, the event attracts FA patients and supporters from across the nation.  With strong family support, “Kate’s Krewe” has participated in this ride for the cure for six years, raising a total of $158,000 for FARA in the process.  Their goal for 2023 is $42,000.

“They announce the top individual and top team fundraisers at the race each year,” said grandfather Bo Walker.  “Kate has been named several times in each.”  It has been the bake sales, spaghetti suppers, tee shirt sales, response to solicitations, sponsorships and other small stepping stones that have made this possible.

Perhaps due to the dedication of this young woman and her family, Kate was selected as one of the first people in the nation to receive treatment in July with a new drug developed by FARA and approved by FDA for individuals ages 16 and older.  Her doctor in Philadelphia included her name in his list of suggested initial patients.

Kate’s grandparents are Bo and Chris Walker and Jimmy and Helene Walker.  “Everyone who has supported our team in the past has helped make this possible.  This is just the beginning.”  Kate is a junior at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where she is majoring in Supply Chain Management and Marketing.

The Bake Sale is Sept 25 through Oct. 6.  It will benefit Kate’s Krewe and FA research.  Sale items will be posted on Kim Bedgood Caldwell Facebook Messenger, cell 318-332-1794.  Pickup at Winn Family Eyecare.  (Checks payable to FARA).