When you first meet Sam Bridgman, you notice how much he smiles and laughs.

“I really strive to live life to its fullest,” the 22-year-old Portland man said.

But no matter how upbeat he is, he still thinks about how things used to be.

“I played all sports,” he said. “Baseball, basketball, I tried soccer, flag football. Anything you can say, I pretty much did it.”

He can’t do much of that today because he’s confined to a wheelchair.

When Sam was a teenager he was diagnosed with a strange disease called Friedreich’s Ataxia, or FA for short. It’s a degenerative neuromuscular condition that affects coordination.

It’s so rare, there are only about eight people in the Portland area who have it. Those who are looking for a cure are holding a big fundraising event this weekend.

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