Brian Grant Foundation’s annual Shake It Till We Make It gala brought Parkinson’s biggest supporters under one roof to put the “fun” in fundraising.
“Nobody told me I wasn’t supposed to start a foundation in the middle of a recession,” Brian Grant joked with the audience during his speech at this year’s Shake It Till We Make It gala. The Brian Grant Foundation (BGF) held its signature event on May 17 at Castaway in Portland, Oregon.
As he glanced around the room and reminisced about the organization’s early days, Grant added, “It was tough. But you guys kept us afloat, kept pushing us through, and finally things started coming together. Now we’re rolling, and it’s a great feeling.”
Now 10 years into his Parkinson’s diagnosis, Grant has experienced minimal progression in his disease. He learned firsthand that in order to keep PD symptoms in check, you have to stick to a nutritious meal plan and a vigorous exercise routine. That’s why BGF’s mission is to educate and motivate people with Parkinson’s to live healthier lifestyles.
“Exercise and nutrition can have a positive and a major impact on your quality of life,” Grant said. “But I’ve also learned that with this disease, it’s more than just exercise and nutrition. You have to have a support group. My support group starts with my kids, my family and my friends in the Parkinson’s community.”
Grant had a hefty group of supporters who weren’t afraid to show up to the Shake It Till We Make It gala with pocketbooks in tow. While mingling over drinks and hors d’oeuvres, attendees perused the auction packages, which ranged from tropical getaways to a VIP night at a Blazers game with the former power forward himself.
The many lives touched by Parkinson’s
Everyone attending this year’s Shake It Till We Make It had been touched by Parkinson’s in some way whether they were a BGF volunteer, a board member of the organization, a sponsor of the evening’s festivities, a family member of someone with Parkinson’s, or a person living with the disease.
“This is my fourth year coming to the Shake It Till We Make It gala, and there’s always a great turnout,” said Renee Brambilla. “I am friends with Lynn Hubert, who is very involved with BGF and helped bring the Parkinson’s exercise classes down to Albany, Oregon.”
“I’m here on behalf of Alaska Airlines who are proud supporters of the Brian Grant Foundation. We appreciate the opportunity to work with such a great local organization,” said Tim Ackman. “But I’m also here in support of my mother, Myrna Brown, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.”
“I got involved with the Brian Grant Foundation through the Maurice Lucas Foundation when they teamed up for a charity basketball game last year,” said Rachel Raab. “Also, my husband Kellen’s uncle has Parkinson’s.”
BGF volunteer Kristen Kerbaugh said, “BGF has put in so much time and effort to form a tight-knit network of Parkinson’s supporters. I would be happy to continue volunteering for the organization until we find a cure.”
By the end of the night, the 2019 Shake It Till We Make It gala raised over $260,000, with roughly 250 people in attendance who were hanging onto Grant’s every word. But despite being a highly-sought-after keynote speaker, Grant admitted during his speech that he always struggles with stage fright.
“You probably didn’t know this, but before I had to give this speech, I was back there sweating. My heart was racing,” he said. “But now that I’m up here talking and seeing all the familiar faces who have been with us for years, it helps me relax a little.
“At the end of the day, it feels good to know that our foundation is going to continue tomorrow and the next day and the next day—all thanks to you.”
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Watch our gala video