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Former Blazer Brian Grant's Portland to Coast Relay team includes a world-class rower

The team put together by the former Trail Blazers big man includes Todd Vogt, an elite rower who was formally diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease in 2018.

PORTLAND, Ore. — For the first time, a familiar face will be walking the 2022 Portland to Coast Relay. Former Portland Trail Blazers big man Brian Grant will be walking with a team he put together of Parkinson's patients, caregivers and advocates.

The 40th running of the Hood to Coast Relay starts Friday at Timberline Lodge and ends Saturday in Seaside. While hundreds of teams will start at Timberline Lodge to run the relay, others will join in Portland, where they'll walk the Portland to Coast Relay, with both groups ending up in Seaside.

RELATED: Course route and traffic impacts | Hood to Coast Relay

Grant's own diagnosis after his retirement from the NBA turned him into an advocate and his relay team for Portland to Coast shows the diversity within the Parkinson's community. There are people of color, single parents and a man who's also a world-class rower.

Portlander Todd Vogt, who was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease in the summer of 2018, will walk with Grant's team this weekend. He's also training for another big race: the World Rowing Championships in the Czech Republic in September.

Vogt spends six days a week rowing on the Multnomah Channel. He said it's great cross training for Portland to Coast. Vogt has two of the more challenging legs during the race and a steep climb coming into Seaside.

When Vogt was diagnosed, he was in his 40s. At the time, he thought his athletic career was over. But he's been able to stay active, even though his tremors have subtly progressed over the past year. He said training gives him a physical and emotional boost.

"When I finish a workout, I feel like what I would say is back to normal for a good 10, 20, 30 minutes," Vogt said. "My tremor is gone, like my arms feel smooth and my arm is swinging, which is great. I get this little bit of feeling pretty much normal again from exercise."

The Brian Grant Foundation touts the benefits of exercise for Parkinson's patients. That's one of the many reasons why this year, for the first time, it formed a relay team for Portland to Coast. Vogt said he's looking forward to hitting the road.

"The whole experience of being like half-awake, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the van, you know, I think it's gonna be a fun experience," he said.

Vogt's running coach, Susan Wood, said Vogt is an inspiration.

"The same time he was diagnosed with Parkinson's, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis," she said. "So both of us were kind of in shell shock. What's inspired me is he's taken his ailment and he ran with it. And so, it tells me that wherever there's a will, there's a way."

Parkinson's is the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world, impacting more than 10 million people of all ages, backgrounds and identities.

For more information, contact the Brian Grant Foundation.

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