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.”firstname.lastname@example.org