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Teen Leads Effort to Raise Awareness and Funding for Tourette Syndrome

Reese Wilson (left) with his grandfather, Virgil Yoakum.

Third Annual Takeaway Tourettes Charity Golf Tournament Slated For Oct. 23

It took years for doctors to diagnose Reese Wilson with Tourette Syndrome — and that wasn’t even the hardest part.

The 16-year old junior at The Woodlands High School said classmates often teased him, and even his teachers did not understand his inability to control vocal tics.

“It’d be like trying to prevent a sneeze,” his mother Jeana Wilson said.

But Tourette was no match for Reese.

He wanted to help others who were struggling with the diagnosis and went on to become the Youth Ambassador for the Tourette Association of America. He also created the Takeaway Tourettes Charity Golf Tournament, an annual fundraiser.

So far, he has raised about $100,000 for the cause. And he hopes this year will be a banner tournament. Golfers will tee off Monday, Oct. 23, at the Woodforest Golf Club, 1199 Fish Creek Thoroughfare in Montgomery. The Golf Club is a 27-hole championship golf course featuring a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse with a restaurant, full-service bar and a pro shop within the master-planned community.

This is the third year for the event, which raises funds for research into Tourette Syndrome, a disorder characterized by involuntary, repetitive movements and vocalizations that usually becomes evident in early childhood or adolescence.

Reese will be on the green, meeting players and sharing his story during the event.

“The fact that Reese stepped up and showed up to help other people shows his immense courage,” Jeana said. “It was a sacrifice for him.”

She explained that Reese had to be willing to let the world know that he has Tourette Syndrome after having been taunted since he was 5 years old.

“It was a lot worse when I was little,” Reese said. “It slowly died down, but you always have bullies.”

He now knows how to handle them.

“The best thing you can do is stand up for yourself,” he said. “I ignore them, laugh with them and roll with the punches. They just don’t understand – and my goal is to help them understand.”

That’s why he became the Youth Am­bass­ador for the National Tourette’s Association.

“It was a dark time for Reese,” Jeana said. “As his mom, I was searching for something to give him purpose. He was miserable, and he felt bad that other people were going through it too.”

After he was selected as Youth Am­bassador, Reese traveled to Wash­ington, D.C., for advocacy training. When he returned home, he started brainstorming what he could do to help the organization.

“He wanted to have a fundraiser,” Jeana said. “Our friend Tammy Schroder suggested a golf tournament.”

“It was perfect,” Reese said. He ap­proached his grandfather, Virgil Yoakum, for help.

Yoakum, with Johnson Development Corporation serves as general manager and vice president for the master-planned communities Woodforest and Grand Central Park, both located in Montgomery County.

Yoakum got on board right away, as did Reese’s parents Jeana and Roby Wilson, of MAXXIMEDIA Advertising. Amanda Murphy with Woodforest also helped with marketing.

Reese said that 100 percent of the funding raised will go directly to the Tourette Association of America-Texas Chapter. The group’s leader Sheryl Kadmon has been an inspiration to Reese, and he wants to help her keep up the good work.

This year, Tammy Schroder of Veritas Title Partners connected Reese with the Commercial Real Estate Association of Montgomery County (CREAM) to help the tournament grow.

Reese is expecting to have 200 golfers for the event, double the number who came last year. Reese said his goal is to not only raise funding for Tourette but also to raise awareness. “When you have a disability, you have a sensitivity to all disabilities,” he said. “I just hope that this tournament can help people understand that this is serious.”

He also wants others to understand the best way to treat someone with the diagnosis. “If you don’t understand something, don’t make fun of it,” he said. “Be kind to that person. You don’t know what they’re going through.”

To register for the golf tournament, visit woodforesttx.com/takeaway. For more information about Woodforest, visit woodforesttx.com.

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