“The first time I met Mr. Myles Walker, I wanted to give him warm hugs for the rest of his life,” says Diana Stock-Prescott. Diana presented Myles with a homemade quilt as their volunteer work on the 2012 Knoxville Extreme Makeover Home Edition neared its conclusion.
Myles also volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club. He is a popular regular at the Murphy Branch library, RiverSports Outfitters, Bearden Bike & Trail, Primetime New York Style Hotdog Connection, and Stormin’ Norman’s Vol Market 3.
He also hobnobs on a regular basis with local politicians, including Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.
Yet strangers have threatened Myles with a switchblade knife and a lead pipe. One man throttled Myles while riding a city bus. What did this cute man with a nice smile and winning personality do to provoke these strangers? He has moderate Tourette Syndrome (T.S.), a neurological disorder accompanied by uncontrollable physical movement and/or unwelcome sounds.
Regarding the incident on the bus, Myles says, “I couldn’t believe it. To this day, I still think ‘wow, my first fight ever.’ I don’t want any more fights. You shouldn’t have to fight anybody over a disability.”
Myles’ Tourette Syndrome began when he was nine years old. He says, “I could have given up. I didn’t feel like all hope was lost. Tourette Syndrome is my gift.” Instead of hiding under the covers like a depressed writer, Myles developed into a one-man-band for Tourette Syndrome awareness.
“Every day I must start awareness all over again. I’m used to all the mocking and stares. That’s why I do what I do. I stay motivated. I want to educate people. Some people are just cruel and let ignorance get the best of them. You never know when T.S. might affect a family member, friend, or co-worker. If you have awareness you can understand instead of being afraid.”
Myles carries medical alert cards in his wallet, but the men who physically threatened him weren’t interested in listening to him or in reading the card. “It’s not my fault I have T.S. I tell people that all the time. Who would want it?! The noise I make startles people. It makes babies cry. I don’t know when the noise is going to come out. I feel like T.S. has a mind of its own.”
Knoxville does not have a T.S. support group, but Myles says, “The Internet is a great thing for folks with common disabilities to find each other.” He uses social media to educate the general public and to reach out to T.S. patients from all over the world. In 2006, his book Me and My Tourettes: Motivated By God was published. “I love my Tourettes. It has led me to meet many new people. I love helping parents understand their child who was just diagnosed with T.S.. It is a blessing.”
© Debra Dylan, 2013.