Hometown Report: Sons bring families together in battle against Tourette’s

06/03/2014 7:30 PM

06/04/2014 7:00 AM

A little more than a month ago, Amy McCulloch noticed a story in The Modesto Bee about Orestimba High School’s Tanner Pruett, the ace pitcher who had the Warriors in contention for the Trans-Valley League championship.

The story focused on Pruett’s strong season, his role in the Warriors’ campaign, and the fact that he battles Tourette Syndrome. The article grabbed McCulloch’s attention because her 8-year-old son, Keegan, was diagnosed with the disorder a year ago.

McCulloch mentioned The Bee’s story on Facebook and posted a personal story about Keegan on the social media site.

“I posted our story mainly for friends and family, and as something therapeutic for myself,” McCulloch said. “It went a little viral.”

Eventually, a friend of the Pruetts saw the posting and shared it with them. They immediately reached out to the McCullochs.

“I wanted to touch base with her and just let her know that we’re going through the same thing, and that if she ever wanted to talk to let us know,” said Pruett’s mother, Charise. “I told Tanner, ‘There’s a little boy that loves baseball as much as you did, and still do, and has Tourette’s.’ ”

According to mayoclinic.org, Tourette Syndrome is an inherited neurological disorder that starts in childhood and involves unusual repetitive movements (tics) or sounds that can’t be controlled. Pruett’s tics include constantly clinching his fingers, and blinking and rolling his eyes.

Keegan’s tics started with blinking and now include advanced-motor tics (engaging multiple muscle groups) such as jutting his head forward, clinching his jaw and shrugging his shoulders, all at once. There’s a 50-50 chance McCulloch’s other children – 6-year-old Kade and 3-year-old Fiona – will have the disorder.

Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month started May 15 and ends June 15. To help raise awareness, McCulloch has organized a 5-kilometer walk that is free to all. The walk, scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday, starts at 18949 Brennan Road in Escalon. Participants are encouraged to wear teal, the color for Tourette’s awareness.

“I’ll be honest, when we got the diagnosis, I’m thinking that my kid’s going to start cussing out people, like you see in the movies and on TV,” McCulloch said. “And if I’m thinking that, probably others are thinking the same thing.

“We just want to try to get rid of the stereotype of what people think Tourette’s is.”

The Pruetts plan to join the walk in Escalon, where Keegan and Tanner will meet for the first time. So, what will be Tanner Pruett’s message for Keegan?

“Basically, not to worry about what other people say about this, and that he’s not the only one out there dealing with this,” Pruett said. “Take it as it is and make the best out of it; don’t let it get you down or make you feel like you’re different.”

• The Turlock Express has joined other top professional indoor soccer teams from across the United States and Mexico – drawing from the Major Indoor Soccer League and Professional Arena Soccer League – to create the Major Arena Soccer League, which will begin play later this year. The 24-team MASL will feature a 20-game regular season, and sides will be grouped into divisions based on geography.
• Modesto’s SOS Club and the SOS Aquatics program will host a multi-sport event in celebration of Olympic Day on June 21. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., kids and adults can participate in swimming, water polo, tennis, handball, racquetball, volleyball, basketball, underwater hockey and more. Golf will be played at Modesto Municipal Golf Course. For information, contact John Hoskins at (209) 578-5801.
• The 21st Rockin’ with the Raiders event, where three Central Catholic alumni will be added to the football team’s Wall of Fame, will be held Friday in the school gymnasium. Tickets are $30 and include an open bar and rib-eye steak dinner. Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner starts at 7, and the induction ceremony gets underway at 8. There also will be a raffle, silent auction and dancing. This year’s inductees are running back Daniel Stall, fullback/linebacker Dustin Bridgewater and center/defensive end Grant Hogan, who were members of the Raiders’ 2005 Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship squad. For tickets, call former Raiders football coach Mike Glines at (209) 577-5991.
• The Ceres Dolphins and Gordon Little of Farmers Insurance are sponsoring a swim clinic Saturday at Downey High School for swimmers 8 to 18. The first session (for ages 8-12) begins at 2 p.m., and the second session (13-18) starts at 3. Downey graduate Karlee Bispo, who swam at the University of Texas and for the U.S. National Team, and B.J. Johnson, a member of the men’s national swim team, will be on hand. Cost is $40, and swimmers can pay at the gate or via the registration link at ceresdolphins.org. Bispo and Johnson are donating their time and waiving their speaking fee, so all proceeds go to the Ceres Dolphins swim club.
• Ripon Christian will hold its 10th annual Knights Volleyball Summer Camp from Tuesday through June 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. each day (the Tuesday session begins at 12:30 p.m.). Cost is $85. Instruction will center on proper technique in the five fundamental areas of the game: passing, blocking, hitting, service and defense. Contact Tiger Shelton at (209) 986-6859 or email tshelton@rschools.com for information.

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