It is a pleasure – and an eye-opener – to read the stories of our students who are living with Tourette Syndrome. Enjoy these courageous essays by our talented and determined applicants for the 2016 Dollars 4 Tic Scholars Tourette Syndrome Scholarships. We are so proud of all of them!

Rachel Irene Retchless, 2016 Recipient, Dollars 4 Tic Scholars Tourette Syndrome Scholarship Sponsored by the Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation

As a person with Tourette Syndrome (TS), there is much I could say about my life learning from and coping with my disorder. Because of my TS, I have acquired many skills and characteristics that make me the unique person I am today.  That being said, having TS has caused extremely strenuous times throughout my life. My life has been full of obstacles, but these obstacles have doubled as rewarding opportunities to learn and grow as an individual. [Read more here…]

Joshua Brayden Green, 2016 Recipient, Dollars 4 Tic Scholars Tourette Syndrome Scholarship Sponsored by the Order of AHEPA Chapter #487

Life with this has never been easy, I sometimes felt as if I had been placed with a curse.  People telling me to stop making noises, stop grunting, moving, or just being me made me feel very alone.  As time went on I have found ways to cope and try to be me and not let it get me down.  Do those methods of coping always work?  No, but I find it is better when I find peace in the things that I am passionate about.  I have found solitude in my Art, purpose in my Music and I find rest and redemption in my God.  [Read more here…]

Jakob “Charlie” Rose, 2016 Recipient, Dollars 4 Tic Scholars Tourette Syndrome Scholarship Sponsored by Tropicalboat Charters, Inc.

I have never had any real desire to be miraculously cured or for my symptoms to even be controlled. Admittedly, I do sometimes become upset when I have to drop whatever is I happen to be carrying to twist my fingers about, or when I lose a video game due to removing my hands from the keyboard to contort them briefly, or even those few uncomfortable moments when I need to lift my foot from the gas or brake pedals to rotate my ankles. But all these minor inconveniences are just that- inconveniences- when compared with the misfortune that has befallen others with symptoms of greater severity with which my condition is often associated. [Read more here…]

Hannah Elizabeth Rusinko, 2016 Recipient, Dollars 4 Tic Scholars Tourette Syndrome Scholarship

Picture a silent classroom with students taking a test.  Loud noises begin to echo from the back of the room.  Sweat begins dripping down her face, her muscles aching from the constant movement and tic suppression.  The room feels empty as does she; stripped of all emotion and passion.  Her shaky hand slowly elevates in the air; she asks a question with a quiet mumble.  As the teacher responds, a voice resonates from across the room, “Shut up and keep twitching”.  Laughter booms throughout the classroom as tears well up in her eyes.  [Read more here…]

Malik Antwan Jackson, 2016 Recipient, Dollars 4 Tic Scholars Tourette Syndrome Scholarship 

My Tourette’s and my tics are a force of their own; they come and go as they please. On some days, my tics could be far and few between or not happen at all, and on other days, my tics can be a living nightmare. Even though I try not to acknowledge my tics, they do tend to take a toll on me physically at times and often annoy me. Sometimes they make me curse inside, and sometimes they make me cry outwardly. Tics bring with them, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms as well as depression, at times. Many school days, I have asked my teachers to let me leave the room, while I try to calm myself from the over exertion of my tics. [Read more here…]

Read on to learn about more of our impressive 2016 applicants!

Kailey Elizabeth Baca

Being brave requires motivation to press on each day in the face of adversity. It means getting back up when you’ve been knocked down and putting aside negativity that makes you question who are and what you stand for. Bravery requires strength which is something one must have in order to fight life’s hardest battles. My life battle has made me question my identity and has developed a strong individual who fights against the odds of being diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. [Read more here…]

David Richard Blon

It has been a unique experience to grow upon as a person with Tourette’s Syndrome. Since my diagnosis at age six, it has often been easy to consider it wholly negative; from a mere inconvenience to a debilitating burden. I can recall with astounding clarity too many examples of the negatives of Tourette’s Syndrome. One specifically occurred in the middle of the summer when I was 12. For me, the heat has always triggered my tics. That summer was especially hot with temperatures blazing into the high 90’s for a month straight. [Read more here…]

Lauren Elizabeth Clark 

“Hep hep,” my lips utter, “crack!” my head abruptly turns to the left. I look around making sure no one saw. Rubbing the perpetually sore muscles in my neck, I return to my work, writing as much as I can before the next interruption. This little creature is always active. He controls me, deciding every turn of the head and twitch of the hand. I could try to resist, I do try, but one way or another he always seems to win. It’s an ongoing battle, I carry him with me everyday. He is my own “constant companion”, He is Tourette Syndrome. [Read more here…]

Michelle Marie Garcia

I was diagnosed with Tourette’s when I was 14 years old. I began to shake uncontrollably while on antibiotics and my mom thought I had a bad reaction. That summer I was in and out of hospitals, constantly passing out and convulsing, no one having an answer for what was causing these spells. We finally found answers at the Children’s Hospital where I was diagnosed with Tourette’s. We wondered how I had gone 14 years without a diagnoses but as my parents looked back on my life they remembered odd “quirks” I would have such as twitching my nose and having bad spells of intense chills. It was very hard being diagnosed the summer before my freshman year. [Read more here…]

Tyler Michael Gossett

Tourette’s Syndrome is defined as a nervous system disorder that involves involuntary movements and sounds. Google also states that it is characterized by the compulsive utterance of obscenities. The second part is sadly all that most people know about my disorder, which isn’t even entirely true. Even though only a small percentage of people with Tourette’s have that symptom it seems to be the only part of the disorder that gets any attention. This in essence describes a lot of what I have dealt with in my life with Tourette’s. [Read more here…]

Kellen Phillips Harp

I started having small, involuntary movements around the age of seven. These impulses went unseen for a year or so until my parents finally noticed. Thinking I was stressed, they bought me a stress ball and largely forgot about it. However, several months passed without any noticeable decrease in my twitches. Now realizing it was something more than stress, my parents figured it was psychological. I then began to see a child psychologist monthly. Again, after several months there was no improvement in reducing these movements. My psychologist recommended that I see a neurologist. It was then that I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. [Read more here…]

Austin Michael Horn 

I have lived most of my life with tourettes and it is definitely been an amazing experience. Though some of my tics have caused me pain and emotional distress, I have learned how to look at the world in a totally new way and appreciate each day more than the next. I can easily see now that just because someone has a disability, does not mean they are unable to think on the same level as a genius. I have learned that I am very skilled with electronics and can work with most mechanical devices, despite my tourettes. [Read more here…]

Pheonix David Howard

Living with Tourette Syndrome has always given me a way to connect with and educate people around me. Growing up, I was always a social person. When my Tourette’s started to appear visually and audibly, I didn’t understand what was happening. I simply told my peers that “I can’t help it.” The day after I was diagnosed in 5th grade, I asked my teacher if I could stand up in front of the class and quickly talk to the class about why I did the things I did. Luckily my peers never made a big deal out of my tics, before or after diagnosis, which made growing up with a disorder slightly less stressful than some people. Fast forward to being a counselor at a summer camp. [Read more here…]

Cameron Acosta Isaac

Growing up with Tourettes syndrome was not easy and still is hard. Life has been way different as a kid with this disability. When I was younger my body was always moving in class, during sports and in public. At first I thought these random movements/twitches was some kind of curse because I had no idea this was a disorder. Throughout all of my years of schooling including the present day, my ticks have and always will impact me. People will stare and even ask me if I am okay. [Read more here…]

Aaron Lavere Oleson, deferred D4TS Scholarship Recipient 2018

Growing up with Tourette’s syndrome, my life has been far from easy. I couldn’t focus in class. I was always stressed—even when there wasn’t a valid reason for it. I wasn’t able to think about anything except the pain that I was causing myself. Nobody knew what was happening to me, though, because everyone’s tics are different. Mine make me bite my cheek until it bleeds and rub my fingers together until they get blisters and whip my head up and down until my neck is too stiff to move. I use trials like these in my life as motivators to drive me to follow my dreams, not as obstacles. [Read more here…]

Tyler Paul Oreskey

Until my middle school years, I attended a small elementary school where I, and my Tourette’s Syndrome, was accepted by everyone.  Differences were acknowledged and celebrated by students and staff.  The situation changed when I got to middle school.  The school was larger with many elementary schools combined into one.  Differences were not celebrated.  They were ridiculed.  Because of the lack of acceptance, my stress increased and my tics intensified. [Read more here…]

Henry Aiden Penalosa

As one might imagine, it was quite the challenge for such a juvenile mind to comprehend. It took me some years to understand the gravity of the situation. I have a condition that disrupts my ability to control my own body. From the age of seven I have been in training. A lifetime stuck in the independent study course, “Control your Body 101.” Living with TS has gifted me with a lot of opportunities to introspect. [Read more here…]  

Nathaniel Neil Ray 

When you’re little kid not a whole lot in life makes sense. Life is pretty simple and there isn’t a whole lot to worry about. As you get older you figure a lot out and life becomes more difficult. For me growing up was a lot harder than other people. I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome at the age of 7 along with OCD and ADD.  It was hard fitting in and figuring out how to deal with my Tourette’s. [Read more here…]

Courtney Elizabeth Smith

Ironically, my tics first began while studying abnormal psychology in high school. They first began in a manner in which I would throw my arms to the right and make sounds that I affectionately referred to as a “pterodactyls trying to escape from my stomach.” Then I graduated from high school and like 50% of persons with a tic disorder, I developed OCD tendencies and a general anxiety disorder, right as I was going into college. I was coping with so many different things all at once. [Read more here…]

Abby Rachael Wilk 

In first grade, my teacher ran out of the room, called my mom and told her she thought I was having a seizure. Thankfully, I wasn’t, but we did wonder why my eyes were involuntarily rolling back into my head. Over the next three years, we saw pediatricians, ophthalmologists, neurologists, movement specialists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and others I can’t even recall. Ultimately, the diagnosis was Tourette’s Syndrome. [Read more here…]