As an early teen I started an organization called teensWts (Teens with Tourette Syndrome) to raise awareness and share support for teens with Tourette Syndrome – like me. I was learning how to be confident in “being different” and wanting to encourage my peers and also meet kids and teens that I had something in common with. It started with on Youtube video answering the question, “What is Tourette Syndrome?” followed by a video for kids and teens who were newly diagnosed.
Before I knew it I received an email from Youtube asking if they could feature the video on the front page and an invitation from the National Tourette Syndrome Association to represent the TSA and speak in front of congress. Some who were in attendance were politicians Ted Kennedy, Chet Edwards and Hilary Clinton. All blue and red aside I was honored to share my heart and my story and be one of the faces and voices for teens with Tourette.
As the years went on I continued speaking at different events raising awareness for Tourette Syndrome and encouraging other young people but not only young people with the exact same condition as me. It was then I realized I could, just maybe, encourage people, especially my peers, in all walks of life and I began to yearn for a way to expand teensWts to being about more than Tourette.
The past few years I have been traveling full time singing and speaking on tours with artists such as Skillet, Reba McEntire, Third Day, Jeremy Camp and have even done events with pro-golfer Bubba Watson, GRAMMY Winners Kelly Clarkson and Kirk Franklin and pianist, with Tourette Syndrome, Michael Wolff. This platform has given me the amazing opportunity to sing (my favorite thing!) but ultimately, one of my favorite parts, to meet amazing people… incredible kids… and a whole lot of fighters. Your stories, your passion, your hearts and your fights have inspired me to expand teensWts for all of us kids, teens and adults who have faced and are facing life-altering challenges but have chosen to stay strong, and become a fighter.
Though the war may not be over, we can still choose to fight.
Photos: Live concert, photographer Caleb Cook; 2012 Dove Awards, Best New Artist, presented by Jaci Velasquez and Newsboys’ Michael Tait; Meeting fans after a concert in California