Name: Danny Rieffenberger
Where do you call home? Watertown, South Dakota
Education: I dropped out of high school when I was in the eleventh grade due to my diagnosis.
What is your relationship status? Do you have children? My wife Alex and I have been married for just about three years. I have one daughter who is 12 years old, her name is Hannah.
What's a typical day for you? I currently stay at home full time. My daily routine consists of waking up around 10:00 AM, I try to shower and get ready for the day by 12:00 PM. I spend time playing with my dogs Stella and Franky outside. We wait till my wife gets home from work around 5:00.
How long have you known you are living with FA? I was diagnosed with FA when I was 15 years old. However, my older sister Mandie was diagnosed several years prior. This gave me a strong intuition of my diagnosis around the age of 12.
Are there any others with FA in your family? My sister Mandie was diagnosed when she was 7 years old. She passed away 11 years ago at the age of 26.
Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. When I was 19 years old, I was walking and my knee gave out and I felt something snap. After that, I transitioned into my wheelchair.
What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? Just recently I started to lift weights at our local Wellness Center. I would like to try and make it to the gym twice a week to maintain my strength. Wheeling around every day and transferring in and out of my wheelchair keep me going as well.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests? I like to spend time with my family and watch my daughter play volleyball.
What is a good trick to make daily life easier? I like to listen to stand up comedy, this keeps me smiling.
When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? I have a strong faith and utilize my relationship with God to get through the tough times. My wife helps me too.
What is one way of living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? Living with FA has given me a lot of patience.
What is a piece of advice that someone with FA has given you that encourages and inspires you? Best piece of advice I have gotten was from my friend Tysen. He passed away from FA just about two months ago. His favorite quote was “let your faith be bigger than your fears.”
What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? “Buckle up; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.” Start gaining strength now, you will need it later. Make sure you keep a good sense of humor about the tough stuff.
What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? If I were to be cured of FA and had the ability to walk again, I would go to work.
Tell us a little more about you…I have been married for just about three years. I met my wife, who at the time babysat for my sister and her family. My wife’s name is Alex. We have two dogs, a Chihuahua named Franky, and a Boston terrier named Stella. (I had another Chihuahua named Ally, my little girl, just had to
put her to sleep April 4th. Almost 16.) My sister Mandie, wrote a book at age 16, “Through The Eyes Of A Child” and it’s was about her life as a child growing up with FA, getting picked on and having to see different doctors. It’s a good read!