One thing (of many) that we have been delighted to learn over these last three years is that our students want to give back. Our impressive 2017 applicants, who live with Tourette Syndrome every day, have shared their hearts with us, and now you, in their application essays. Through sharing their stories, they have helped make a difference to others with Tourette Syndrome. It is our hope that you will learn more about what it is like to live and learn while having Tourette’s, and also that you will admire, as we did, the selfless contributions of these students. Please enjoy the thoughtful essays from our 2017 Dollars 4 Tic Scholars Tourette Syndrome Scholarship applicants.

Emily F. Birney

As a little girl, my mom telling me that I had this weird thing called Tourette’s Syndrome was hard to understand. However, It gave me some insight as to why I was different from my friends; why I constantly felt the urge to make strange noises and certain movements. Being diagnosed with Tourette’s was definitely difficult at first, but I’ve grown up a lot and learned to accept it for the most part. [Read more here…]

Brittany N. Bookout

Stop moving! That is what I would always hear growing up. Yet, I could not just stop moving. I would try to control myself and my movements but I couldn’t. Nobody would ever listen to me or hear me explain what was going on in my body and mind. I hated school. I would always get picked on and teased because I was considered ‘different’ and not ‘normal.’ [Read more here…]

John M. Capper 

Living with Tourette syndrome has had its obstacles, but those hurdles have brought me unique benefits. When I went through elementary school, I was fortunate enough to have classmates who were generally accepting and helpful of my disorder. [Read more here…]

Andrew R. Choinski 

I have been dealing with Tourette Syndrome for my whole life, longer than I can even remember. It has been a persistent struggle to deal with this on an everyday basis, whether it’s having very interruptive breathing patterns or enduring physical pain throughout my body from certain tics. I have been to numerous doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, etc. [Read more here…]

Isaac T. J. Dickinson

Perseverance… steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Success… the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Purpose…the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. [Read more here…]

Conner M. Ezell

When I was in Kindergarten, I was held back. I couldn’t read or learn at the same pace as other children. What my parents didn’t realize, I was concentrating on keeping my body from producing tics. They took me to doctors and therapists trying to get a diagnosis.  [Read more here…]

Jennifer R. Gordon

Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, these simple characteristics are shared in the tales of every human life. I am not completely certain where my story begins, for as long as I can remember my body has made unwanted movements and sounds. [Read more here…]

Morgan E. Graser

I eat, breathe, and sleep color guard every day of my life. Ever since I showed up to my first practice in 7th grade I knew my journey wouldn’t be easy. Walking in on that first day with my water bottle in one hand and my fear of not doing well in the back of my mind, I learned how to do my first jazz walk and drop spin. [Read more here…]

Mary L. Gregorian

As a child, “self-control” was a phrase that drove a pit of dread into my stomach. It was commonly wielded against me in admonishments and reprimands. Lack of self-control was the very bane of my existence. [Read more here…]

Justin D. Hendee

When I was younger, it did not affect me much because I never thought about it. I was just a kid, why would I? Now that I am older, having Tourette’s Syndrome has impacted my life in many ways, some well and others not so well. [Read more here…]  

Austin L. Holliday 

Blinking was the start of a long diagnosis. Since before I can remember, my blinking has always been off. We thought it was nothing, until the 4th grade rolled around. My teacher started to notice how I would make little marks on my paper. When it got too serious to ignore, she contacted my mom. [Read more here…]

Jason B. Ingerick, 2017 Recipient, Dollars 4 Tic Scholars Tourette Syndrome Scholarship Sponsored by AHEPA Chapter 487

Throughout my life, I have received the same question from both acquaintances and close friends: why do you do that? As long as I can remember my tics have always been fairly blatant as well as attention grabbing; ranging between small vocal tics and large motor tics. [Read more here…]

Braeden M. Kelley

For me, life with Tourette’s syndrome has been difficult at times and oddly enough, rewarding at others. Some of the challenges of life with TS are always remembering to take medication, the confused and sometimes disapproving looks you get from people in public, completing tasks when you are ticing, rampant misconceptions associated with the disease, and explaining to new people you meet what it is. [Read more here…]

Ryan T. Knapp 

Over the last few years, life hasn’t been normal. Although we face challenges, it is the toughest that make us who we are. Medical challenges have been most common and have tested me mentally and physically. These challenges have made me stronger. It is because of this, I feel a source of pride. [Read more here…]

Tess F. Kowalski 

Eleven years ago: I sit, legs crossed, looking down at the brightly colored shapes and letters covering the carpet below me. I’m in my kindergarten classroom. The teacher walks through the door and abruptly stops. “Tess, are you crying again?” [Read more here…]

Apostolos-Christos E. Lianos 

In the beginning the tics were not as severe but still made me different than other kids my age. Trying to control the tics became my daily goal. It was very difficult to understand all the facts about my condition but I wanted to succeed and become a productive member of my community so I learned to live with the tics and kept participating in my daily activities. [Read more here…]

Thomas J. Licato, 2017 Recipient, Dollars 4 Tic Scholars Tourette Syndrome Scholarship Sponsored by the Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation 

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. [Read more here…]

Lyric G. Ludden

I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome around the age of 7, and it has greatly affected my life ever since. It has not always been easy living with tics and OCD tendencies, and I often find myself frustrated as a result of not being in complete control of my body. [Read more here…]

Spencer T. Mason 

Living with Tourette Syndrome has been a life of ups and downs. Strenuous and repetitive tics were painful caused injury. Homework was stressful because I could not focus. It took hours to complete simple assignments. [Read more here…]

Ryan T. Paynter 

In my mind, life with Tourette’s Syndrome has been as normal as can be. I have lived with TICs all my life and do not know life without them. If I were to take an outside perspective on my life, I would say that my TICs have been an obstacle. However, I do not to let my TICs set me back, or let them be an excuse for failure. [Read more here…]

Kali E. Potock 

I was diagnosed with a form of Tourette’s syndrome, Tics, at 10 years old. I am currently 18 years old and have been living with this disability for 8 years now. At the time of diagnosis, I was making the switch from elementary school to middle school, a stressful time in a young girl’s life. [Read more here…]

Hunter E. Riese 

I have been diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome since I was in the fourth grade. That is a long time ago considering I am now a twelfth grade senior in high school, about to be off to college. With time however I have seen my Tourette’s reach both positive and negative heights. [Read more here…]

Tyler D. Schacher

Before I knew what Tourette’s Syndrome was, I observed that my dad’s face was often very active and in motion. I then realized that I faced a similar issue: my face would never stop moving, and I would often make little noises because my throat felt as though it was closing. [Read more here…]

Cassandra A. Sherman

Living life with Tourette Syndrome has been a lifelong experience with valuable lessons. I have learned that my Tourette’s will always be my best friend and worse enemy. Thanks to it, I have learned the meaning of devoted friendship, the value of determination, and the power of education. [Read more here…]

Connor R. Svrcek

My greatest untold story is my journey to health. I have Tourette’s Syndrome and a number of food allergies. These conditions make it hard to live a normal, teenage life. Despite this I have found ways to adapt and live. If you saw me on the street, you would never guess that this is my untold story. [Read more here…]

Mason C. Taylor, 2017 Recipient, Dollars 4 Tic Scolars Tourette Syndrome Scholarship

I have many Tourette’s stories, but this is the one that really sticks with me. When I was eight, I was at a church camp and every day we had a mandatory rest time. All kids my age hated it because no eight year old wants to be lying down in bed when you could be having a water balloon fight. But I hated it for a different reason. [Read more here…]

Molly S. Traylor

“CLICK, CLICK, CLICK!” The noise pierced the invisible bubble that surrounded the small child jerking her from the depths of a dream snapping her back into the reality in which she existed. [Read more here…]

Olivia G. Vander Tuin 

“Stop that honey,” my mom said to me as I incessantly dragged and tapped my right foot along the ground. I shrugged my shoulders, looked up at my mom, and said, “I can’t help it.” We continued to walk through the grocery store, and I continued to drag my foot. [Read more here…]

Annie P. Wyrick, 2017 Recipient, Dollars 4 Tic Scholars Tourette Syndrome Scholarship

It was third grade when I started developing facial tics. I was both confused and embarrassed. I didn’t know what was happening to me. As I got older, my tics got worse. They had evolved from simple facial tics to violent head shaking and full body convulsions. [Read more here…]

Applicant A

Eye blinking, squeaking noises, head jerking, shoulder shrugging, humming, the list goes on. They mysteriously come and go; some days they are bad, other days not so bad. People asking “why are you doing that?” or “stop doing that!” Pediatrician, eye doctor, allergist, neurologist, EEG, and MRI appointments including hour long car rides each way to All Children’s Hospital in St. Pete for habit reversal therapy. [Read more here…]

Applicant B

During elementary school, I was a “C” student and school was very difficult. Homework frequently took several hours. After a battery of tests, I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, ADD and being gifted. I did not care about being gifted. I was afraid I would start blurting out words. I wondered if my world was going to crash. [Read more here…]

Applicant C

In late elementary school, I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, as well as anxiety syndrome. Throughout middle school I struggled with high levels of stress, which intensified when I found myself in any new, foreign, or unstructured situations. I remember going to an FCA leadership camp in 6th grade, one which my parents were actually working. [Read more here…]

Applicant D

Growing up with Tourette’s isn’t something I would describe as “easy.” First you have to get used to the staring. I’m sure everybody has had that feeling where you can feel everybody in the room looking at you. Whether you did something embarrassing or maybe you had a zit on your face, I’m sure you can relate. Just imagine- at all times during any public interaction you happen to be a part of. [Read more here…]

Applicant E

In my 18 years of life, I have been through a lot. As a person with tourette’s syndrome, I have often faced hardship. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is to be accepting of who you are. When I was younger, I was often ashamed of my condition. It was very hard for me to be in social settings, because for a period of time I was ticking very loudly, and typically once or twice a second. [Read more here…]

Applicant F

As a child growing up with Tourette’s, I did not comprehend the disorder as much as I do now. My parents would take me to doctors, therapists, or counselors but I didn’t know why. I wondered why I was making movements and sounds that I could not control. Thankfully, I was never bullied throughout my life. [Read more here…]

Applicant G

My mom nudges me awake. I’m burrowed deep in my blankets and I struggle toward consciousness. As my mind surfaces, my first thought is my presentation on the Cold War in Modern World History period eight. “Crap.” The anxiety builds as I brush my teeth. The uneasiness grows as I walk towards my friends huddled in the science hallway. [Read more here…]