Andrea Kiess Name: Andrea Kiess

Age: 44

Where do you call home? Wichita, Kansas

Education/degrees: Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy

What's a typical day for you? I usually go to the gym 3 times a week. Other days are spent going to appointments, running errands, and volunteering for FARA. Of course, I always make time to watch TV and hang out with family and friends!

How long have you known you are living with FA? My gym teacher noticed that I had a lot of trouble with balance when I was 14. Two neurologists and many tests later, they guessed I had FA. When it was developed, I had a blood test at the age of 20 to confirm my diagnosis.

Andrea Kiess Are there any others with FA in your family? My younger brother

Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. Honestly, it was pretty difficult. I was stubborn and didn’t want to use a walker even when I knew I needed to. Plus, I had a fun job at Blockbuster Video that I wasn’t ready to give up. So, I kept walking independently until I fell and broke my leg. After that, I had to use a walker around the house and a wheelchair to go further. I started using a chair full time at the age of 22.

What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? At the gym, I swim, use the recumbent stepper, use the hand cycle, and use weight machines. On days I don’t go to the gym, I stretch at home and use my stander

Do you have any hobbies or special interests? I absolutely love my service dog, Zelda. I’m in a Fantasy Football league (my team is called Legend of Zelda) and am pretty obsessed this time of year!

What is a good trick to make daily life easier? Get a service dog

When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? Cry. I feel better after releasing my emotions and venting to my mom (Sorry mom!)

What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? Because of FA, I have many strong friendships with people I would not have met otherwise.

Andrea Kiess What is a favorite motivational quote of yours? Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength"

What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? Go to an event where there are others with FA. It really helped me to see that I am not alone.

What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? Use the stairs

"I have FA but FA doesn't have me." What does this statement mean to you? How do you live your life in the face of adversity FA is just a small part of me. There is much more that makes me who I am.

Interviewed by
Interviewed by Brittany Sommerfield