Shawn Forth [left] and his family on their Trek (Provided by Tourette Canada - Muskoka Resource Unit on Facebook)
The annual Trek for Tourette raised $2,995 in Muskoka alone.
The nationwide event was held virtually over the weekend because of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 40 people in the region signed up to march within their personal bubbles.
“The Trek is an annual walk-a-thon supporting Tourette Canada, and Muskoka’s been taking part for the last 13 years,” says Shawn Forth, coordinator for Tourette Canada’s Muskoka Resource Unit. “In a normal year, we’d have 70 or 80 participants walking through downtown Gravenhurst bringing awareness to the community about Tourette Syndrome and raising funds.”
Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by sudden, involuntary sounds or movements known as tics. It is estimated to affect between one and four per cent of the Canadian population. Only about ten per cent of people with the disorder also suffer from coprolalia, which is involuntary swearing.
Tourette Canada is a non-profit that provides educational resources and support programs for people with the disorder. Forth says that the trek is one of a few events that keep those programs running.
“Tourette Canada is a national charity supporting Tourette Syndrome, it is the only national charity for Tourette, and gets zero government funding,” says Forth. “Trek for Tourette is the national fundraiser, and that is where Tourette Canada gets its money.”
Forth says he’s been using Tourette Canada’s resources and support groups since being diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of 14. According to Forth, the organization’s resources go a long way towards helping people in similar circumstances.
“As a teenager, not knowing what’s going on, tic-ing and twitching and having these movements you have limited control over, it helps having a national advocacy group that can give correct and up to date research and information for the school system, and for my family to help them better support me.”
You can donate to Tourette Canada or find local resources and programs regarding Tourette Syndrome on the organization’s website.