AUBURN, Mass. – Tuesday, Sept. 25, is National Ataxia Awareness Day in Massachusetts thanks in part to the efforts of John Mauro, an Auburn resident who suffers from the neurological disorder that affects muscle movements.
Mauro worked with State Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury) and State Rep. Paul Frost (R-Auburn) to help get a resolution passed declaring the day.
“Most people don’t know what ataxia is and its effects, so this is great for awareness,” Mauro said. “So many people are affected by ataxia.”
It is estimated that 150,000 people in the United States are affected by this group of rare and often fatal degenerative neurological disorders. Some symptoms include impairment of coordination, hearing, vision and speech. There is no effective treatment or cure.
Moore and Frost said that declaring Sept. 25 as Ataxia Day will go a long way in promoting awareness of the illness.
“Passage of this resolution will bring much-needed awareness and public education to this horrible affliction,” said Moore. “I applaud our constituents who have stepped forward and taken on the mission of bringing this issue to the forefront.”
“I’m pleased to see this resolution passed so at the state level we can draw attention and awareness to this disease,” Frost said. “I also applaud all those, including Mr. John Mauro of Auburn, who have ataxia and who have the courage and strength to fight it and raise awareness of it.”
Mauro created an annual fundraising and awareness day in 2007 known as the Ride for John. The event began as a three-mile run-walk-and-roll event at Lemansky Park in Auburn and has grown to include over 200 participants.
On Sept. 16, Mauro held his 5th annual event.
“This community event is a great way for people to get together and learn about the disorder while having fun raising funds,” he said.
Mauro donates all proceeds to the National Ataxia Foundation. With the proceeds this year, Mauro hopes to purchase a recumbent trike for a young person afflicted with the symptoms of ataxia. It would provide the freedom of movement and independence the person wouldn’t have otherwise.