2020 Annual Ataxia Conference (1)


We regrettably announce that the 2020 Annual Ataxia Conference has been cancelled due to evolving concerns over the fast moving situation with coronavirus COVID-19. We want everyone to know that this decision was not made lightly. The health and safety of our Ataxia community is our main priority. We did not want to put anyone at increased risk of exposure to the virus.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and disappointment that this decision may cause. The well-being of our Ataxia families, physicians, researchers, organization partners, staff, and volunteers always comes first. We look forward to our next opportunity to see you and provide meaningful educational content.

Learn More: https://ataxia.org/2020-aac-cancelled-due-to-coronavirus-concerns/

As interest from the pharmaceutical industry in developing drugs to treat Ataxia continues to grow, we at the National Ataxia Foundation believe that collaboration among researchers, clinicians, pharmaceutical companies, and Ataxia patients has reached a critical moment. Each of these groups must work together, as partners, to advance progress toward better patient care and more effective treatments for Ataxia. The time is now!

Join us in Denver at the 63rd Annual Ataxia Conference to learn, share, network, and have fun.


Each person who is planning on attending any portion of the conference must register, including attendants. The conference registration fee gives access to all sessions, continental breakfast on Friday and Saturday morning, light appetizers at the Friday evening Meet & Greet Reception, and a plated meal at the Saturday evening banquet. Register online or call NAF at 763-553-0020 to register over the phone. 

No refunds of registration fees for cancellations received after February 21, 2020.

Hotel Reservations

The Sheraton Denver Downtown is the official conference hotel of the 2020 NAF Annual Ataxia Conference. It is located at 1550 Court Place, Denver CO 80202. Hotel reservations at the group rate will remain available at a group rate until February 1, 2020. A credit card is required at the time of booking.

The NAF group rate is $179 + taxes (currently 15.75%), per night.  Please note there is limited availability on discounted rate rooms.

Book a Non-ADA Room

Non-ADA rooms must be booked directly through the hotel. Book a non-ADA room online or by phone at (888) 627-8405. When booking a reservation by phone, request the National Ataxia Foundation group rate. If you require a room with two beds please note your request and communicate the accurate number of people in your room when making your room reservation. Guest rooms in the Plaza Building are closest to convention spaces on the Concourse Level. 

Book an ADA Room

ADA rooms cannot be reserved through the hotel – they must be requested through NAF. ADA room reservations will open at noon Central Time on November 5. Email your request AFTER 12pm Central Time on November 5th or call 763-553-0020 to be added to the list. ADA room reservations will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For questions about ADA room availability, contact Lori Shogren, Community Program and Services Director at 763-231-2743 or lori@ataxia.org.

About Sheraton Denver Downtown

Select a tab below for more detailed information about hotel accommodations.

Sheraton Denver Downtown is located on the 16th Street Mall – which is a mile-long strip of bistros, microbreweries, shopping, and entertainment. The 16th Street Mall offers a free and accessible bus that travels 16th Street on a regular basis daily. More info: http://www.rtd-denver.com/FREEMallRide.shtml.

Most guest rooms and meeting space will be in the Plaza Building of the hotel on the Concourse Level. Access with a Room Key is required in the elevators to reach floors with guest rooms. If you require assistance with the elevator to reach your guest room floor, please see a Front Desk Agent. Be advised that the hotel will be undergoing some renovations. The Front Desk during the conference will be in the Tower Building. Visit the Sheraton Denver Downtown website http://www.sheratondenverdowntown.com/ or Sheraton Denver Fact Sheet for more information.

Door Width – Non-ADA Rooms

The width of the bathroom door in the non-ADA guestrooms is 21 ½ – 33 inches. The hotel can take the bathroom room door off if necessary in some of the guest rooms. 

Door Width – ADA Rooms

The width of the bathroom door in the current ADA guest rooms is 33-34 inches. The width of the bathroom doors in renovated ADA rooms will be 36″.

Bed Height

The height of the beds in every guest room is 28 inches.

Other ADA Room Information

All rooms have platform bases. If you are renting a hoyer lift please make sure this is noted on your reservation so that an alternative base can be installed. ADA rooms are dispersed throughout the hotel’s Tower and Plaza buildings. Elevators from both buildings go directly down to the Concourse Level which is where the convention spaces are located.

If you need ADA equipment you are encouraged to bring those items with you or plan to rent equipment locally. Resources to rent equipment can be found in the Denver Services and Resources section of this article. NAF is unable to provide ADA equipment however the Sheraton Denver Downtown may have some extra shower chairs, grab bars, or detachable shower heads available. Be sure and request these items when making your reservation if needed.  A Rollaway bed and refrigerator can also be requested at no charge. 

Valet parking and Self-parking are available. NAF has discounted parking rates available for AAC attendees. NAF’s discounted rate for Valet is $22 and for Self-parking is $18 daily. All day Saturday & Sunday the daily Self-parking rate is $12.00 (excludes overnight parking). The Sheraton Denver Downtown parking garage is located underground with direct access via elevator to the hotel lobby and has a clearance of 6’ 4’’. The Self-parking garage entrance is located on the right side of 15th Street. Please see the Sheraton Parking Map for details about the Self-parking and Valet parking locations.

Oversized parking – The Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel can accommodate a limited number of oversized vehicles at a lot that is nearby, but not directly located at the Hotel. The pricing is $55/per night (pricing subject to change without notice). The Oversized Lot can be accessed through the hotel valet. There are alternate surface lots throughout downtown Denver that can be utilized as well. You can visit www.bestparking.com/denver-parking to look up operating company information, directions, and pricing.

There is not a service dog relief area at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. It is recommended to use the Civic Center Park at 101 W. 14th Ave., Denver, CO 80202.

AAC attendees staying at the Sheraton Denver Downtown will enjoy complimentary internet in their guest room for up to three devices depending on the bandwidth. Attendees will see the complimentary in-room internet option when they login while in their guest room. Additional charges may apply for more than three devices or for internet services selected outside the guestroom.

All guest rooms and public spaces are 100% non-smoking. Vaping is also prohibited. A $300 USD cleaning fee will be charged to any guest who violates the smoking policy. 

Notice of cancellation must be received 72 hours prior to your arrival date.

Apply for a Travel Grant

NAF offers travel grants to help with a portion of the costs associated with attending the conference. A limited number of grants is awarded each year. Adults or children with Ataxia are eligible to apply. Applications will be accepted through January 6, 2020. 

For questions about travel grants or to request that an application be mailed to you, contact:

Lori Shogren, Community Program and Services Director at 763-231-2743 or lori@ataxia.org.


We invite world-leading Ataxia researchers and physicians to present at AAC. The 2020 Annual Ataxia Conference keynote speaker will be Dr. Jeremy Schmahmann. Other speakers to be announced. 

Jeremy Schmahmann, MD

KEYNOTE SPEAKER. Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Susan Perlman, MD

Clinical Professor of Neurology and Director of the Ataxia Center at UCLA Medical Center

Harry Orr, PhD

NAF Research Director, Director of Institute for Translational Neuroscience, and Tulloch Professor of Genetics in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at University of Minnesota

Pravin Khemani, MD

Neurologist at Swedish Neuroscience Institute Movement Disorders Center.

Al La Spada, PhD

Director of the Duke Center for Neurodegeneration & Neurotherapies

Vikram Shakkottai, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurology, Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan

Amanda Gallagher, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist with the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Brain and Stroke Rehabilitation Program and the Johns Hopkins Ataxia Center.

Emily Todd, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor at the Adult Medical Genetics Program, University of Colorado Health system

Jennifer Millar, MSPT

Research Physical Therapist at Johns Hopkins Laboratory of Vestibular Neuro Adaptation.

George "Chip" Wilmot, MD, PhD

Professor of Neurology at Emory University.

Tim Piser, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer at Cadent Therapeutics.

Melissa Beiner, MD

Director of Research and Development at Biohaven Pharmaceuticals.

Lauren Seeberger, MD

Neurologist specializing in Movement Disorders.

Trevor Hawkins, MD

Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado and Co-Director of the University of Colorado Ataxia Clinic.

Abigail Collins, MD

Pediatric Movement Disorders Neurologist at Children's Hospital Colorado.

Christina Vaughan, MD, MHS

Chief of the Section of Neuro-Palliative Care at the University of Colorado.

Questions about speaking opportunities?

Contact Lori Shogren, Community Program and Services Director at 763-231-2743 or lori@ataxia.org.


Thursday, March 5, 2020

  • Ataxia Marketplace (1-5:30pm)
  • First-Time AAC Attendee/Ataxia 101 Session (3-4pm)
  • Research Poster Session (5:30-6:30pm)
  • Under 30 with Ataxia Meet-Up (8-9:30pm)

Friday, March 6, 2020

  • Continental Breakfast (7:30-8:30am)
  • Ataxia Marketplace (7:30am-5pm)
  • General Sessions (8:30-11:30am)
  • Lunch N' Learn Sessions (12-1pm)
  • Birds of a Feather Small Sessions (2-4:30pm)
  • Meet & Greet Reception (5pm)
  • Wheelchair Dancing (2:30-3:30pm)

Friday General Session Topics

  • Ataxia Research Comes Full Circle
  • Your Voice in Drug and Therapy Development
  • Drug Development: Ataxia Drug Discovery Pipeline
  • Patients as Research Collaborators
  • Networking with AIM Researchers

Friday Lunch N’ Learn Session Topics

  • Genetic Testing
  • Rehabilitation Management Strategies
  • 10 Basic Financial Steps for Special Needs Caregivers
  • Adaptive Recreation
  • Choice: Dealing with Disappointment in a Time of so Much Opportunity

Saturday, March 7, 2020

  • Continental Breakfast (7:30-8:30am)
  • Ataxia Marketplace (7:30am-5pm)
  • General Sessions (8:30-11:30am)
  • Lunch N' Learn Sessions (12-1pm)
  • Birds of a Feather Small Sessions (2-4:30pm)
  • Wheelchair Dancing (2:30-3:30pm)
  • Banquet (7-11:30pm)

Saturday General Session Topics

  • Pharmaceutical Industry Panel
  • Clinical Care of Ataxia
  • Living Well with Ataxia: A Palliative Care Approach
  • A Wholehearted Life: One Step at a Time
  • Living and Coping with Ataxia Panel

Saturday Lunch N’ Learn Session Topics

  • Genetic Testing
  • Rehabilitation Management Strategies
  • 10 Basic Financial Steps for Special Needs Caregivers
  • Adaptive Recreation
  • Choice: Dealing with Disappointment in a Time of so Much Opportunity


Thanks to all sponsors of the 2020 Annual Ataxia Conference for helping make this incredible program available to our community.

Interested in becoming an exhibitor or sponsor?

Contact Joel Sutherland, Development Director at 763-231-2748 or joel@ataxia.org.

Get Involved

Our event volunteers contribute to the success of the Annual Ataxia Conference. There are many opportunities to participate. To learn about volunteer opportunities, contact Mollie Utting, Communications Coordinator, at 763-553-0020 or mollie@ataxia.org.

Denver-Area Resources

The following information can be used as a guide as you plan your trip needs in Denver. The National Ataxia Foundation does not endorse products, services, or manufacturers. Those mentioned below are included for your information only. The NAF assumes no liability for the use or contents of any product or service mentioned.

Check out Denver.org for tourist information including area information, things to do, events, and restaurants.

In Denver the average high temperature in March is 52 degrees and the average low temperature is 26 degrees.

Ground Transportation Information

To help you with planning, NAF encourages you to access the links to important websites for the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation that will inform you of your rights and your responsibilities.

Passengers requiring any in-flight assistance should contact their airline before traveling.  Airlines will generally work with passengers to try to meet their in-flight needs. It is helpful to request an aisle seat if you need wheelchair assistance. Also, visit the TSA Cares website https://www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support for contact information to request screening assistance, scooter assistance, service animal assistance, and any other accessible services that you may need at the airports you utilize during your travels. For your safety and for the safety of other travelers please do not leave your baggage unattended at any airport you visit during your travels.

Detailed information about the services and facilities at the Denver International Airport can be found at http://www.flydenver.com/.  Please note: At the Denver International Airport there are three concourses, A, B, and C and the Main Terminal. In the center of each of these buildings is an Information Booth where travelers can seek assistance if needed. The airport terminals are up to 1 mile long. Please request assistance if you are not able to walk this distance. The airport will have construction projects going on that may cause some confusion. Please allow extra time to make your way through the airport.  

The Ground Transportation Information Counter at the Denver International Airport is in the central area on Level 5 of Jeppesen Terminal. Counter hours are 6:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily. Visit http://www.flydenver.com/parking_transit/transportation_den or call (303) 342-4059 for a complete listing of ground transportation options to and from the Denver International Airport.

Wheelchair Transportation – travelers traveling to and from the Denver International Airport can choose from among several companies that provide wheelchair transportation services. Individuals needing this service should make reservations with a service provider in advance. The following ground transportation companies pick up disabled passengers at curbside on Level 5, west side of Jeppesen Terminal

RTD Paratransit Services, Access-a-Ride – provides curb-to-curb public transportation to riders who have a disability that prevents them from making some or all their trips on fixed route buses. This service is sometimes called “ADA Paratransit Service”. Access-a-Ride service must be reserved 1-3 days in advance. The service is provided with lift-equipped vans which are scheduled through the Access-a-Ride Call Center office. Access-a-Ride service operates in the same areas and during the same days and hours as the fixed route non-commuter bus service. The service can be used for any trip purpose. The User’s Guide on the Access-A-Ride website http://www.rtd-denver.com/accessARide_UsersGuide.shtml provides information about RTD’s Access-a-Ride service – who is eligible to use the service, how to request a ride, fares, and other important information. If you still have questions after reading this User’s Guide, you can call the Access-a-Ride office at (303)299-6560 or (303)299-2980 if you use a TTY. Upon request, copies of this User’s Guide can also be provided in large print, audiotape, or on computer disk.

Denver Airport Rail Line – It’s now easier than ever to get from Denver International Airport (DEN) to downtown Denver with the opening of the new Denver airport train line. The train is located right by the new Westin Denver International Airport Hotel. At a cost of $10.50 (with several discounts available), travelers can use the rail service, known as the A Line, to get from the airport to Denver Union Station and vice versa courtesy of the Regional Transportation District (RTD), metro Denver’s public transit provider. The new Denver airport rail has six stops between the airport and Denver Union Station. The ride takes about 37 minutes between the airport and downtown. Trains have level boarding at all doors of the train and have two wheelchair spaces per car. At Union Station proceed to your right when you leave the train to board the Free 16th St Mall Shuttle. Take the shuttle to the Sheraton at the Court Place stop. The shuttle ride is about 16 minutes. Download the Denver Union Station Arrival Guide for more information. Taking the train and shuttle from the airport to the Sheraton Denver Downtown takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The train and the shuttle are wheelchair accessible.

Wheelchair Van Rental

AMS Vans
(888) 880-8267

Aspen Medical Supply
(702) 322-0101

Performance Mobility
Toll Free: (877) 864-8267
Phone: (303) 288-0140

Wheelers Accessible Van Rentals
(800) 456-1371

Wheelchair Getaways
(800) 238-6920

Accessible Equipment, Wheelchair, and Scooter Rentals

Apria Healthcare
11600 E 53rd Ave Unit D
Denver, CO 80239
(720) 922-4600

Aspen Medical Supply
250 E Dry Creek Rd. #114
Littleton, Colorado 80122
Toll Free:877-322-0101 877-322-0101
FREE Local:720-322-0101

Major Medical Supply Brighton
7000 N Broadway
Denver, CO 80221
(303) 654-0720

nu motion
13450 E Smith Rd
Aurora, CO 8011
(303) 781-1474
Toll Free: 800-525-8586

Penfield’s Office Business Center
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel
(303) 626-2547

Scootaround Inc


750 16th St.
(303) 534-1182

801 16th St.
(303) 571-5316

Personal Care Attendants (PCA)

If you need a personal care attendant, please plan prior to attending the conference to have someone accompany you or have a PCA hired before you arrive in Denver. Please note that NAF is unable to provide attendant care services. Due to liabilities and health concerns, NAF staff or volunteers and hotel employees are not able to provide PCA services.

Personal Assistance Services of Colorado (PASCO)
(303) 233-3122

Conference Tax Deduction Information

Conference Deductions by attendees
Rev. Rul. 2000–24, page 963 (In part)
Medical expenses.
Amounts paid by an individual for expenses of admission and transportation to a medical conference relating to the chronic disease of the individual’s dependent are deductible as medical expenses under section 213 of the Code (subject to the limitations of that section), if the costs are primarily for and essential to the medical care of the dependent. The cost of meals and lodging while attending the conference are not deductible as medical expenses under Code section 213.

ADA Assistance Office

Denver Office of Disability Rights
201 W. Colfax Avenue, Dept. 1102 – 2nd Floor
Denver, Colorado 80202
(720) 913-1311
(720) 913-8475 TTY


If you need childcare, please make arrangements prior to attending the meeting. Please note that NAF is unable to provide childcare services. Due to liabilities and health concerns, NAF staff or volunteers and hotel employees are not able to provide childcare services.

Tots on the Spot
(970) 214-8373

Financial Assistance

Rare Caregiver Respite Program
This program provides financial assistance to the caregiver to attend a conference or event. Awards are up to $500. Email CaregiverRespite@raredisease.org for more information.

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