Aug 22, 04:15 AM
I can make a few easy assumptions about the readers that come by this website. The vast majority of them are NASCAR fans, and they most likely came here through a link from the premier website for all things NASCAR, www.jayski.com.
There is a much smaller chance that visitors here are familiar with what my son, Joshua, and I are all about. Not only do we do weekly Cup race breakdowns (‘HeartRacers~HeartBreakers’), but Joshua has been known to interview such personalities as Mike Joy, Dave Despain, or Artie Kempner. Fairly regularly I write about something in NASCAR that stirs something in me that irresistibly draws me to the keyboard. We enjoy it all very much, and hope to continue doing so for a long time into the future.
Occasionally we also give in to our passion for Tourette Syndrome awareness (and the disorders that many times accompany it), and do our best to provide information about it in a way that our readers would be open to and enjoy. It is difficult, though, to discuss a medical disorder without turning away people who otherwise have no desire to learn about it. If something doesn’t personally affect a person, there isn’t a lot of motivation to want to be educated about it.
For the years that we have been writing our articles, we have expressed our desire for the NASCAR drivers that are touched by Tourette Syndrome to please come forward and say something (and once you become knowledgeable about Tourette, you can recognize it in others, even when other people are otherwise oblivious to it). Not because we want to embarrass, confront, or otherwise make someone uncomfortable. But the truth is when a famous well-liked person comes forward and discusses medical issues, suddenly it becomes interesting to people. I can talk my head off about what Tourette is (and I have, trust me), but I am just humble me.
I have recognized the tics that are the hallmark of the disorder in a handful of drivers, and have longed for the day that at least one of them would come forward and say so. What a difference that makes.
Look what Hermie Sadler and Artie Kempner have done for Autism awareness. Both gentlemen are touched personally by this disorder (which Joshua and I are touched with as well, by the way, and why we cheer on Hermie Sadler every race he is in, and believe that Artie is next to royalty for the things he has done to promote Autism), and they have put aside any discomfort and publicly discussed it. Individuals with the disorder and families that are touched by it are all the better for it. A few years ago seeing a ribbon decorated with puzzle pieces would be unrecognizable to many, but thanks to folks like Kempner and Sadler, a whole lot more people know that is the Autism ribbon, and made them sympathetic to the cause. We are so grateful for that.
Less is known about Tourette Syndrome, the neurological disorder that causes body movements called ‘tics’. Tics are repetitive, involuntary movements such as facial grimaces, head jerks, or eye-rolling; or there are also ‘vocal tics’ such as throat-clearing, squeaks, or grunts. Unfortunately it is impossible to give a thorough overview of Tourette in just a few paragraphs, but there is tons of information on the internet, in books, and in magazines.
Now we are thrilled to see that Kenny and Steve Wallace have spoken out about their diagnoses of this disorder. No longer do the message boards have to fill up with threads about why Steve makes those ‘funny faces’, and why Kenny does that ‘odd blinking thing with his eyes’. The conjecturing about why they do what they do (which is sometimes pretty wacky or downright cruel) can cease. They have Tourette Syndrome, and they have tics. Your neighbor might have asthma, your aunt might have diabetes, and Kenny and Steve Wallace have Tourette Syndrome. That’s life, as they say.
I certainly don’t celebrate their having a disorder, but I do celebrate their public admittance that they have it. I know that many thousands of people have been compelled to learn about Tourette Syndrome just because it has touched two of their favorite drivers in NASCAR, and the world is better for that. Do you think that is a dramatic statement? If you are a member of a special family, then you know well the truth is immensely better than what people make up.
Thank you, Steve and Kenny Wallace, from the bottom of our hearts.
For more information, visit the National Tourette Syndrome Assn. website, or just put ‘Tourette Syndrome’ in your address bar and hit search. And thank you for caring enough to do so.