Trekking to­gether

Lo­cal fam­ily hopes to raise aware­ness, funds for Tourette Canada

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Sports - BY KRYSTA CAR­ROLL krys28@hot­

When some­one is di­ag­nosed with a syn­drome, it is au­to­matic to seek an­swers.

What’s dif­fi­cult is when those an­swers are not read­ily avail­able.

A fam­ily in Grand Falls-Wind­sor is hop­ing to spread aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion about some­thing close to their hearts, Tourette syn­drome, by host­ing the area’s first Trek for Tourette this month.

“Af­ter my son and I found out that we have Tourette syn­drome, I felt com­pletely alone,” said Tara Bannister. “There are no pam­phlets any­where around here in the doc­tors’ of­fices, there are no sup­port groups, there is ab­so­lutely no in­for­ma­tion given to newly di­ag­nosed peo­ple.”

Tourette syn­drome is hered­i­tary, but Bannister said she didn’t know what it was un­til she was in her 30s, and she has no knowl­edge of any fam­ily mem­bers hav­ing it be­sides her­self and her son.

The only place she had to turn for in­for­ma­tion was Google.

“Af­ter four years of cop­ing with this alone and do­ing as much re­search as I could on my own to help my son and me, I de­cided there has to be more peo­ple out there like us,” Bannister said. “Af­ter all, one per cent of the pop­u­la­tion have Tourette syn­drome.”

She started a Face­book sup­port group for peo­ple in cen­tral New­found­land and then de­cided to or­ga­nize the Trek for Tourette in Grand Falls-Wind­sor.

She trav­elled to Toronto in Jan­uary to do in-ser­vice train­ing with Tourette Canada, mean­ing she is now trained to go to schools and busi­nesses to pro­vide Tourette syn­drome in-ser­vices.

Her next step is the lo­cal Trek for Tourette, which na­tion­ally is in its 10th year and is Canada’s only na­tional fundraiser for Tourette syn­drome aware­ness, Bannister said.

Funds raised go to Tourette Canada, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion. The trek is a five-kilo­me­tre walk typ­i­cally held on the last Sun­day of March across Canada.

“My main goal is to spread ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness about Tourette syn­drome and other as­so­ci­ated dis­or­ders so that other peo­ple and other fam­i­lies don’t feel so alone,” Bannister said. Ac­cep­tance and in­clu­sion

Due to mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what Tourette syn­drome is, Bannister said, many peo­ple go un­di­ag­nosed their en­tire lives.

“The walk is very im­por­tant to my­self and my fam­ily, and I hope that it will be im­por­tant to other mem­bers of the com­mu­nity as well be­cause all we want is ac­cep­tance and in­clu­sion,” she said. “Peo­ple with Tourette syn­drome are gen­er­ally mocked and made fun of and judged harshly.

“It’s a very taboo dis­or­der that I re­ally just want to help nor­mal­ize, be­cause we are just like ev­ery­one else ex­cept our brain makes our body do things that we don’t have any con­trol over.”

Bannister started Wear Teal for Tourette Day as a kick­off to the Trek for Tourette. On Fri­day March 23, 2018, she is hop­ing to get as many peo­ple as she can to wear teal. She sent let­ters to 20 schools, mainly in the cen­tral area, look­ing for sup­port. Ex­ploits Val­ley In­ter­me­di­ate, Ben­jamin’s school, has agreed to par­tic­i­pate.

The fol­low­ing day, March 24, the Trek for Tourette will take place in the gym­na­sium of Wood­land Pri­mary in Grand Falls-Wind­sor. Regis­tra­tion is at 1 p.m. with the trek be­gin­ning at 2 p.m.

“There will be lots of prizes and hope­fully some food and we hope ev­ery­one will have a good time,” Bannister said. “It’s not just for peo­ple with Tourette syn­drome, it’s for any­one in the com­mu­nity who wants to show their sup­port.”

The Ban­nis­ters found out Mon­day evening that Ben­jamin’s hockey team, the Grand Falls-Wind­sor Pee­wee B Cats, is join­ing the trek, some­thing that made both Ben­jamin and his mother very proud.

“Wow, that’s amaz­ing,” was Ben­jamin’s re­sponse to the news. “I can’t be­lieve my whole team is sup­port­ing me.”

Par­tic­i­pants who reach a goal of $100 or more will re­ceive a prize of a tote bag, and other prizes will be up for grabs.

Ben­jamin, 13, has al­ready raised more than $400 for the trek. He put up posters and recorded a Face­book video, which has about 1,500 views.

“I am hop­ing to raise $500 but it would be re­ally awe­some if I could raise $1,000,” Ben­jamin said. “Rais­ing money is im­por­tant be­cause the more money Tourette Canada has, the more in­for­ma­tion and aware­ness can be made avail­able to other peo­ple like me.”


When Grand Falls-Wind­sor’s Tara Bannister and her son Ben­jamin were di­ag­nosed with Tourette syn­drome, she felt com­pletely alone. She is hop­ing by rais­ing aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion about the syn­drome, she can help oth­ers.

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