About Us

Mission Statement

The Project Wheels Foundation provides support for Friedreich’s Ataxia (F.A.)  patients and their families.  This rare neuromuscular disease very often limits the mobility and free movement of those afflicted. Project Wheels aims to provide direct support to F.A. patients by helping them acquire equipment such as wheelchair-retrofitted vehicles and home wheelchair ramps. We work relentlessly alongside our supporters to help these individuals maintain their independence and live an life free of obstacles.

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Meet the Board

“Paying it Foward”

My son, Patrick, was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) on December 23, 2010 – a date that I will forever remember. FA is an incurable life-shortening neuromuscular disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system resulting in symptoms such as muscle weakness, speech problems, and heart disease.

Since Patrick’s diagnosis, I’ve watched his disease progress; and consequently, have had to watch my son struggle to maintain a “normal” life, which many of us take for granted. For Patrick – and all of those living with FA – working, paying bills, meeting up with friends, exercising, etc. are a challenge, and make life far from “normal”. Those affected by FA are limited by the muscular capabilities of their bodies and oftentimes need to rely on the use of crutches or wheelchairs to get around. For Patrick, the progression of his disease caused him to depend on crutches for walking, and later forced him to rely solely on a wheelchair as his legs became too weak and unreliable.

As you may imagine, this disease can also cause financial strain on those affected. When Patrick was forced to depend solely on a wheelchair, it quickly became obvious that the car he was driving was not safe enough for him to use given the unreliable condition of his muscular reactions, particularly in his legs. He was in need of a wheel chair van that would allow the use of hand controls for driving. Along with his mounting medical bills; this was a financial burden that Patrick was not able to overcome alone. It was at his time that we decided to turn to our community for help.

In November 2012, my family and I organized a fundraiser for Patrick in Lynn, MA in order to raise money to buy him a van that could be retrofitted to suit his needs and allow him to drive around safely. We received an overwhelming amount of support and raised $40,000 which allowed us to purchase Patrick a van AND build a wheel chair ramp on my house so that my son can easily get in and out of my home. The outpouring of love, support, and generosity was truly inspiring.

It was these series of events that motivated me to start The Project Wheels Foundation. It is my hope that I can “pay it forward” and help others living with FA.

Project Wheels has officially filed an application with the IRS and we are pending 501(c)(3) status. All donations to Project Wheels are tax deductible.

-Helen Cogan

President & Founder of The Project Wheels Foundation