A Canterbury police officer with Tourette syndrome is cycling for 24 hours straight to raise money and awareness for the Tourette’s Association of New Zealand.
Andy Norton of Rangiora developed “reasonably severe” Tourette’s at aged seven, but wasn’t diagnosed until he was 13.
He says it was an “isolating and lonely” experience to grow up with.
“It was difficult. Certainly it was probably worse through high school. Kids can pick on you if you’re different.”
As an adult, Mr Norton says he has learned to manage the syndrome.
“I never let it hold me back and just forged ahead and got involved in a lot of sport and a lot of other activities, and here I am today. It’s sort of lessened as I got older, which I was fortunate."
Now he’s making it his mission to support the community, by doing the cycle to raise money for the association and Camp Twitch, a programme for young kids with Tourette syndrome and their families.
“It’s going to be physically and mentally draining - I know that. But at the end of the 24 hours I can hop off the bike, have a rest and for people in the community with Tourette’s they don’t have that luxury. It’s constant for them, the daily struggle, and this is a small thing that I can do to show my support.”
He says the camp is a “fantastic opportunity” for the kids.
“It’s the highlight of the year. They look forward to it. They make lifelong friends and they can be themselves.
“They don’t have to hide their ticks, they don’t have to apologise. They can just be kids and have a lot of fun.”
Mr Norton will be cycling for a 24-hour period with the odd break to stretch and grab something to eat.
“But certainly my goal is to keep riding for that 24-hour period,” he says.
The police officer will be riding on the 14th of August at 7pm on Swift, a virtual platform but on a real bike hooked up to a cycle trainer.
Mr Norton has created a Givealittle page for his ride, to raise money for the association and Camp Twitch.