5 people with Tourette Syndrome who inspire News Center 7's John Bedell

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2019 @ 9:00 AM

Truth About Tourette's: People who inspired John Bedell

One of our own here at Channel 7 is opening up about his journey with Tourette Syndrome. News Center 7 reporter and weekend evening anchor John Bedell was diagnosed with Tourette's when he was 11.

John will share his experience with Tourette Syndrome in his special report Thursday, Feb. 21, starting at 5:30 p.m. on News Center 7. 

TUNE IN THURSDAY: Living with Tourette’s: News Center 7’s John Bedell shares his story

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Here's what John has to say about why he's opening up about his journey and the people who have encouraged him along the way: 

One of my favorite reporters is responsible for inspiring me to share my story. CBS News Correspondent David Begnaud just opened up about living with Tourette Syndrome. I've chosen to pay that inspiration forward hoping it will help others. 

RELATED: 5 things to know about Tourette Syndrome

I want to spread awareness about Tourette Syndrome and help educate people about the medical condition. I want to help other families with their road ahead as they cope with a neurological disorder that's impacted my family. 

 

I've lived with Tourette Syndrome for almost as long as I can remember. My tics started in first grade. I was diagnosed by a child neurologist the summer between my fourth and fifth grade years — that was 21 years ago this coming July. 

Since then, I've worked to learn as much as I can about TS so I can understand what I'm dealing with — "knowledge is power," as they say. Part of that work has been building a network of other people living with Tourette Syndrome who are advocates for themselves and others with the disorder. 

Here are five people who happen to have Tourette's who have inspired me: 

1.) Jim Eisenreich 

Jim Eisenreich is a retired Major League Baseball player. He spent 15 years in the majors that included stints with the Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, Florida Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Jim won a World Series Championship with the Marlins in 1997. He founded The Jim Eisenreich Foundation for children with Tourette Syndrome. 

>> 5 things to know about Tourette Syndrome

When I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in the summer of 1998, Jim was the first person I connected with who also had TS. He was a tremendous inspiration to me as a child dealing with a new diagnosis. 

Jim sent me a letter of encouragement along with two of his signed cards — one from his days with the Phillies and one of his Marlins cards. I still have those at my parents' house. 

2.) Nikki Burdine 

Nikki Burdine is a local TV news journalist. She's the co-anchor on "Good Morning Nashville" on WKRN-TV, the ABC affiliate in Nashville, Tennessee. Before she came to WKRN, Nikki did a story in 2016 about her journey with TS while she was working at WUSA 9 — the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C.

I sent Nikki an email then, thanking her for the story and for having the courage to tell it. She told me to let her know if I ever decided to talk about my Tourette's on the air.

 

Nikki's story got me thinking about opening up about my own experience with Tourette's for the first time, but the timing wasn't quite right for me personally. Still, her story started me down that path. 

I emailed her a couple weeks ago to let her know I was opening up about my journey with Tourette's on the air. 

3.) David Begnaud 

David Begnaud is a CBS news correspondent based in New York City who happens to have Tourette's. He did a series of stories a few weeks before Christmas revealing he has TS. 

I sent him a thank-you note on social media telling him the stories got me to thinking about sharing my story for the first time since Nikki's story aired, but that I was still hesitant about opening up.

 

He messaged me back, "barrel through those barriers so that you too may inspire someone." 

That touched my heart and inspired my story that will air Thursday at 5:30 p.m. on News Center 7. 

4.) Tim Howard 

Tim Howard is a professional soccer player. Right now, he's in the middle of his second stop in the MLS as the goalkeeper and team captain for the Colorado Rapids. Howard has also played in the English Premier League for Manchester United and Everton. He also played for the U.S. Men's National Team from 2002-2017. 

Howard started in goal for the United States in every one of its matches in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. 

Howard's book, "The Keeper," was published in 2014 and chronicles his career and life with Tourette Syndrome. 

5.) Anthony Ervin 

Anthony Ervin is a professional swimmer who happens to have Tourette's. He's won four Olympic medals. Ervin also has two World Championship golds to his name. 

At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Ervin won a gold medal in the 50 meter freestyle and silver as a part of the U.S. 4x100 meter freestyle relay team. 

During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Ervin won gold with the U.S. 4x100 meter relay team for the second time in his career.

Ervin also won Olympic gold in the 50 meter freestyle in Rio. He was 35 when he won that race — making him the oldest individual Olympic gold medal winner in swimming. 

Ervin's sports memoir, "Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian," published in 2016.

To learn more about Tourette's, visit the Tourette Association of America, or follow them on TwitterInstagram or Facebook.