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Actor James Marsden received the 2008 Champion of Children award last month from the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA). The award dinner is one of TSA’s largest annual fund raising events in the US.

Marsden, a long time friend of fellow actor Dash Mihok who suffers from Tourette Syndrome, was honored for his support and efforts in raising awareness about this often misunderstood disorder. Believing strongly in education, he says, “Ignorance is such a tough thing to battle.”

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is an inherited neurobiological disorder that causes involuntary body motor movements and/or vocalizations. These can be frequent, rapid, and repetitive and range from common facial tics like blinking, eye rolling, nose twitching, or grimacing to whole body involvement like stamping or kicking. Although television often portrays TS sufferers cursing uncontrollably, most vocal tics are in the form of grunting, throat clearing, shouting, and barking.

Marsden says, “It’s hard enough just being a kid and trying to fit in. It’s heartbreaking to think that these kids are being teased and made fun of by kids their age.”

TSA provides high-level education, research and support to TS sufferers, families, and the professionals who treat them. The association’s other mission is to educate the public in understanding and tolerance.

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