Event will benefit Tourette research


When Sam and Marilyn Fox’s grandchild was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, they learned a lot about this inherited neurobiological disorder. For example, they found out (the hard way) that at least one child in every school in St. Louis has Tourette Syndrome and that more than 200,000 children and adults in the United States have been diagnosed with full-blown TS. Millions more may have undiagnosed symptoms. Sam and Marilyn were told, furthermore, that research to better understand this life-tormenting and puzzling disorder is underway in major medical institutions across the US and abroad. No cure has been found yet, but new medications and treatments are continually being analyzed and prescribed.

“It goes without saying that funding for continued research is imperative. Sam and I have chosen to become involved with the National Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) because it is the nation’s only not-for-profit organization serving the needs of people with Tourette Syndrome. Its programs of research, professional and public education and individual and family services are made possible through financial help from individuals, corporations and foundations.” Marilyn explained.


Because of their personal involvement and their innate sense of responsibility to help others, Sam and Marilyn agreed to chair the Patron Committee of Strength to Succeed, St. Louis’ first event to benefit the National Tourette Syndrome Association. It is scheduled for Saturday evening, Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Khorrasan Room of the Chase Park Plaza.

Chairing the event is Myrna Meyer whose able committee includes her husband Jay, Merle and Greg Fox, Barbara and Harvey Cotlar, Debbie and John Greenberg and a hundred plus others.

Included in the cost of the evening, $180 per person, are interesting speakers, cocktails, dinner and dancing as well as a contribution to the cause. For reservations send your check to Myrna Meyer, Strength to Succeed, 1146 Conwyck Lane, St. Louis MO 63131 or for more information call 314-432-1863.

For those of you who are not familiar with Tourette Syndrome, and most people are not, here is a brief description. It is a neurological disorder characterized by tics — involuntary, rapid, sudden movements and/or vocal outbursts that occur repeatedly.

Commonly, motor tics may be eye blinking, head jerking, shoulder shrugging and facial grimacing while throat clearing, sniffing and tongue clicking are common vocal symptoms. No definite cause has been established for the disorder which is diagnosed basically by observation.

One of the myths is that people with TS are psychologically impaired, less intelligent, obstinate or purposely obstructive. Nonsense!

Contrary to common thought, 85 to 90 percent are not prone to using inappropriate language, but popular media has sensationalized the swearing and foul language, helping to foster painful discrimination against anyone with TS looking for a job, applying to school or trying to make friends.

The Strength to Succeed Committee has planned a very special evening with an exceptional motivational speaker, Brad Cohen, and to honor Dr. Brad Schlaggar, a much honored M.D. PhD neurologist whose research has been significant in the treatment of TS. Judit Ungar, president of the National Tourette Syndrome Association, the 35-year-old organization dedicated to TS education, research and service, will come from New York to present Dr. Schlaggar with the TSA Humanitarian Award. Dr. Schlaggar, assistant professor of Neurology, Radiology, Anatomy and Neurobiology and Pediatrics, is also the Director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Brad Cohen, a former St. Louisan and the author of the book Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had , will be the guest speaker. As a child with Tourette Syndrome, Brad was beaten, mocked and shunned. Some thought he was possessed by the devil and even some members of his family refused to be seen in public with him. As an adult Brad overcame all odds to become an award-winning teacher of the year for the state of Georgia where he finally found a home teaching second-graders not only reading, writing and math but also about love and acceptance of all people. He has appeared on the Oprah TV show, been featured in People magazine and is in big demand as an inspirational speaker.

As a footnote, I would like to recommend to you Icy Sparks (Penguin) by Gwen Hyman Rubio. It’s a novel about a little girl from Appalachia who suffers from Tourette Syndrome and, as an adult, conquers all. The book is sensitive and very perceptive about the trials and tribulations experienced by people with TS.