Brian Grant Diagnosed at NPF Center of Excellence
Brian Grant, a former Miami Heat NBA player, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease last year by Dr. John Nutt, the Medical Director of NPF's Center of Excellence at the Parkinson Center of Oregon at Oregon Health & Science University. He recently held a fundraiser in Oregon which raised $130,000 for Parkinson's Resources of Oregon, a chapter of NPF. Read the full story from OregonLive.com below.
Former Portland Trail Blazer Brian Grant launches full-court press against Parkinson's
Brian Grant is crusading on behalf of Parkinson's disease research with the same grit and determination that made him a popular Portland Trail Blazer.
"I have to deal with the ups and downs of my own Parkinson's on a daily basis, but I'm trying to be out there as much as I can to tell anyone who will listen, especially young people, about this disease," Grant said at a fundraiser last week in Portland that pulled in more than $130,000 for Parkinson's Resources of Oregon. "My goal right now is education."
A year ago, Grant, 38, of West Linn shocked sports fans when he announced he had Parkinson's, a degenerative disease for which there is no known cause or cure.
Grant had played with the Trail Blazers for three seasons before being traded to the Miami Heat in 2000. During his stint in Portland, the Ohio native won the hearts of thousands of fans with his competitive spirit and philanthropic work. Now, many are opening their checkbooks to help with his new mission.
"We're lucky to have someone with such a high profile who is willing to talk openly about Parkinson's," said Dr. Lucien Burke, a retired radiologist who has been battling the disease for 11 years. "It hits people from all walks of life and our message is that early diagnosis can improve your quality of life for years."
After retiring from the NBA in 2006, Grant noticed an occasional, involuntary twitching in his left hand. After a series of tests, Dr. John Nutt, a neurologist who heads the Parkinson Center of Oregon at OHSU, gave Grant the devastating news.
Last spring, Grant went public with his diagnosis, announcing that he was following the examples of Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali.
Grant recently started the Brian Grant Foundation and will co-sponsor a "Shake It Till We Make It" gala Aug. 1 and 2 at Spirit Mountain Casino with Fox, Ali and longtime NBA coach Pat Riley.
"This gives me a platform to reach out to others," Grant said. "I'm especially interested in finding out how the disease affects African Americans."
Grant has changed his diet to mostly organics and he's working out with less intensity. "But I don't want people to feel sorry for me, because I'm doing OK."
He will serve as grand marshal for the 2010 Grand Floral Parade on June 12.
According to Parkinson's Resources of Oregon, nearly 1 million Americans have the disease -- 25,000 in Oregon and southwest Washington. About 10 percent are younger than 40.
The numbers could be higher, said executive director Holly Chaimov, but since Parkinson's is noncommunicable, doctors don't have to report all cases.
Following Grant's example, others are telling their stories.
"I think he's done a world of good to show that it's not just an old person's disease," said Steve VanDyke, 49, a science teacher at Beaverton's Stoller Middle School. "His kind of inspiration could give more people courage."
-- Joe Fitzgibbon
By Special to The Oregonian
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