Hey, how are ya?!
I’m Joey Mullaney and a 24-year-old man, born and raised in Leominster, Mass. When I was thirteen-years-old, I was told he had a rare neurological disorder called Friedreich’s ataxia (FA). FA is a rare degenerative neuromuscular disorder that diminishes coordination, mobility, speech and organ function.
Growing up as an avid sports fan, I was an aspiring athlete who played basketball and baseball. I went from being a star athlete to a benchwarmer because of the effects of FA. At the start of my freshman year of high school, FA’s progression brought my playing days to a halt. In a bitter twist of irony, my twin brother Sean, who is not afflicted with FA, was an exceptional multi-sport athlete who captained several high school and college sports teams.
After we both graduated from Lawrence Academy Prep High School in 2013, we split off and I moved on to pursue an undergraduate degree from Quinnipiac University. Undeterred by my physical debilitation and limited life expectancy, I made up his mind to live life as fully as possible. After graduating from Quinnipiac University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, serving as a Fraternity Man in Sigma Phi Epsilon, an Orientation Leader and Student Body President, I shipped off to Boston.
In my daily life, I am an Adaptive CrossFit Athlete, I am in the process of writing my own memoir and am beginning a career as a motivational speaker. All while pursuing a master’s degree in the School of Communications at Emerson College.
For many years, the news of FA blindsided me. Even though I was far from alone, for a while I felt like the only person on the planet. Since that time, the road to self-awareness, confidence, and acceptance has been a bumpy ride. A terminal diagnosis will do that. I may have accomplished a lot in life, but the “mental” journey took awhile. Admittedly I wasted a lot of time thinking about how little time I might have, and it struck me: That’s sort of dumb. So, I decided to take the ticking time clock and embrace it while I can, and that is exactly what I am doing now! Instead of fighting time, I’m partnering with it.
Well, you’re going to have to stay tuned to the blog each week to find out. Which brings me to the mission of this website: This forum is just as much about you as it is about me. I figured other young people, whether in high school or college, working their first job or still in the stage of life where they’re figuring it all out, might feel alone like I once did. Maybe you too have been blindsided by something or someone and feel unprepared to handle the hand you’ve been dealt. I will share my insights on the ups and downs of my life, how I navigate the unexpected, what I believe I gain each day in spite of my tribulations, and how much fun, despite any adversity, life can be. And when I am lost for words or am myself having a crappy day, I will talk about Tom Brady and the infinite number of reasons why he is the G.O.A.T.
I am in no way saying I have zero worries about my health … I mean, I can’t simply ignore how sick I’m getting. But even though I have physically lost a lot, I have gained much more in purpose and heightened living.
Most important, my goal is to open the dialogue about how we all make it work (or don’t) in this mad world and share ideas and experiences about finding a way out of the madness.