The day she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at age 33, Hadley Ferguson was listening to the car radio.
“I heard an ad for Brian Grant’s first “Shake it ‘Till We Make It” event and thought I need to go,” she remembers.
She lives in Montana but this past weekend she attended her third annual event in Portland put on by the Brian Grant Foundation.
The former Portland Trailblazer started the foundation shortly after he was diagnosed.
“From the day I was diagnosed, I felt a connection to Brian. He was someone who was young like me ,” said Ferguson.
According to the Parkinson Foundation website, only 4 percent of patients are diagnosed before the age of 50 and men are one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson’s.
Though the disease makes Hadley’s right hand rigid, she has painted several works of art that have been awarded in raffles at the “Shake It Till We Make It” events.
“I played basketball for 12 years and I could dribble with my right but if I switched to my left it was a no go,” say Grant “and here’s Hadley switching the brush to her left hand when the right won’t work.”
Hadley’s work for the Grant Foundation caught the eye of the CEO of Burgerville and he commissioned a mural for the Tigard location that just opened this summer.
“It’s supposed to reflect their community and its surroundings with the wine country, the ocean in the distance and the hot air balloons,” said Ferguson.
With Grant as her inspiration Hadley also helped start a nonprofit in Montana called Summit for Parkinson’s.
It’s a resource for those who are diagnosed.
“When you get this news you make a decision about whether to turn it into a positive and that’s what she’s done,” said Hadley’s husband John.
“My whole focus was to be better for our daughter,” recalls Hadley, “You have to find the tools to feel better.”
Through Brian Grant’s work she has found those tools.
His Foundation has raised more than a million dollars and given way to valuable friendships, “Most of my information comes from caregivers and other patients. That’s where we make the connections that are going to last,” concluded Grant.
His latest effort to help patients focuses on exercise.
A half dozen YMCA locations will start classes designed specifically for patients with Parkinson’s.
For more information go to the Foundation website.