by Alice Thomas-Tisdale On June 25, Janiya Bowens will be 10 years old. Quite a feat for Jackson’s little champion. Since age six, Janiya has struggled to maintain her balance, keep her eyes open, move her limbs, keep her food down, swallow, and lately, smile or utter a single word. Janiya suffers from spinocerebellar ataxias. It is a hereditary defect in a certain gene that makes abnormal proteins. The abnormal proteins hamper the ability of nerve cells, primarily in the cerebellum and spinal cord, to function properly and cause them to degenerate over time. As the disease progresses, coordination problems worsen.