Connor was an honorable mention in the 2019 NJCTS Scholarship Award.
This was the essay included with his submission.
(Blinks twice, rolls my shoulder on both arms, then I bend my head side to side). The necessity to move tingles all throughout my body, My mind’s racing and telling me “Just let it out, it will feel better” “Do it again, that wasn’t right”. In school, I can’t help but sweat and look around, waiting for the perfect time to hum or tap my fingers over and over on the table,
The urge seems to hit me any chance it gets, no more thoughts will continue until I release the tension. At that point, my power to control it has dissipated and now I must accept my battle. hours and hours without the stopping, I can start to feel my body dropping, the day has rached its end and my body needs rest, but my mind says otherwise, and I have to tic again.
Everyday has shown me it can be different, ending in tears of pain one nights, and smiles of joy the next.
The hardest days are the ones that grow me the most,
God blessed me with this challenge because He knows I’ll beat this test.
I will become something special one day,
I promise you that, my disorder is apart of me, and it will never leave.
The best part of it all, is that it’s only “Me vs. Me”.
When my teacher asked us to write a poem in fifteen minutes, I was initially annoyed, but as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard all of my deep thoughts regarding my Tourette Syndrome were freely expressed for the first time through my writing. My fingers typed as such a fast pace, I felt a sense of excitement and confidence in expressing an intimate account of my experiences living with Tourette Syndrome. Tourette Syndrome has played a significant role in my life by providing me with a challenge to overcome every day in order to become a stronger and more driven individual.
In February 2010, when I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with T.S. At an early age, it was hard to comprehend my situation and what made me me so different from my peers. Confusion slowly set in as my parents continues to take me to the doctors, even when I felt fine. The long arguments that my Mom and Dad had about how to treat this still replays in my head at 18. I learned very quickly that people who do not understand things in life, will usually make fun of it or never try to educate themselves about the issue. Once 5th grade began, my real challenge had finally approached me. In the beginning of the school year, my tics were severely elevated due to the stress of school, and a group of kids who noticed me making “strange noises” in the bathroom. they began mimicking me, calling me handicapped, stupid, freak and many others. this encounter hurt me deeply because I had no knowledge of people acting this way to one another based on somebody being different from another.
Reaching my thirteenth birthday was something all kids see as a milestone, for finally becoming a teenager. For me, it was the beginning of becoming independent and loving myself for who I had become already. Having Tourette Syndrome gave me an immediate curiosity towards the topic as a whole. I’d take time to read articles, learn about the biology behind it from my father and find athletes who dealt with Tourette Syndrome in their lifetime as well. At 14 and 15, bullying still followed me, but because of the knowledge I gained, it slowly hurt me less and less. My Mom and Dad would always give me the positivity to keep me going even at my all time lows and that allowed me to see the bigger picture. I’m going to have family and friends who care and love me all the time and they want to see me succeed. For that, I will forever be grateful for my family and close friends for what they have done for me at such an early age.
As the ages sixteen, seventeen and eighteen came around, I found myself through Tourette Syndrome in a way that I never imagined possible. My Junior year of high school went by with the snap of a finger. But the memories of the high school baseball season will never disappear from my mind. By the time opening day had approached, I had committed to the University of Maryland to further my education and baseball career. Achieving my life long goal of playing college baseball had finally happened and to this day just the thought of it all makes me smile. How I overcame T.S. and worked day in and day out to be the athlete and student required to go to a B1G baseball school and one of the best in the Country. As senior year was in full swing, I had reached another dream of mine by being recognized by the MLB. In late September, I sat down with the Texas Rangers and had a talk about with them about being drafted out of high school and going immediately into the minor league program. Sharing that experience with my family after all they had done for me was truly surreal. In addition, the Texas Rangers were completely accepting of my T.S. which made me feel safe about being apart of their organization in the future. With Thanksgiving just around the corner of 2018, I had a meeting with reporter Jane Havsy about how I combat Tourette Syndrome with baseball. This article also included my explanation for the tattoo on my left bicep that has the word “Relentless” running across it was a T and an Sin teal to represent Tourette Syndrome. In addition the word “Relentless” was something one of my close friends Cara A who battled brain and bone cancer used as her own motto that I adopted over the years from her. This beautifully descriptive article had made national news on USA Today High School Sports, and just recently Jane became the recipient of highest level award achievable press award for her work.
In conclusion, Tourette Syndrome have brought me to my greatest achievements in life. Starting with my struggle at the age of eight and still battling against it has just made me that much stronger of an individual in this world. I never thought that my life would have turned out the way it did but that is something I am proud of myself for creating through hard work and dedication to getting better as an athlete, student and individual and I can’t wait to bring awareness of Tourette Syndrome with my wherever my future takes me so I can educate the youth about the disorder that affects so many.