How a special four-legged friend would transform teenager Connor's life
- Credit: Submitted
A young Torbay man whose life has been shattered by an incurable illness has launched a fund-raising appeal to buy a dog – but this is no ordinary pooch.
The ‘assistance’ dog would totally transform Connor Myers’s life.
Connor, 19, suffers Tourette's Syndrome, a neuromuscular disease which causes involuntary physical and verbal twitches.
The condition makes some of the simplest things we all take for granted impossible for Connor.
It has robbed him of the chance of dreams of taking part in the Olympics. It has affected him mentally and it is getting worse.
A specially-trained four-legged friend would make all the difference. Connor, who lives in Brixham, says: “The assistance dog is a dog that would go everywhere with me and help me with my daily tasks like opening and closing doors as I have great difficulty with due to my twitches, keeping me safe from my impulsive twitches and helping me breathe when I have tic attacks through deep pressure therapy.”
Connor, who attends the University Centre at South Devon College where he is doing a foundation degree in sports coaching and fitness, has set up a funding page to raise the £5,500 cost of the dog.
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The former Furzeham Primary and Churston Ferrers Grammar School pupil used to sail with Brixham Yacht Club and Brixham Junior Sailing Club, and sailed nationally and internationally competing with the European Laser Class Association.
He said: “In 2017 I became a sponsored professional sailor with an Olympic ambition. Over the next two years I climbed my way up the ranking, finishing as high as 11th in the UK before I suffered an injury with my knees. Combined with me struggling with my mental health and twitches, I made the very difficult decision to retire in 2019.”
Connor also goes to Martialarts4fun in Newton Abbot and is a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo and a previous Southern Champion.
But Connor says: “I struggle to attend classes due to my twitches which make me very self-conscious. This has also stopped me going out with friends due to embarrassment and anxiety of being judged by others.”
He adds: “Tourette's isn't just swearing and shouting, it's not being able to carry a glass of water, or not being able to sit still. There are so many things it stops you doing, and so many ways if affects you. During some tic attacks I am unable to breathe or move which can be very scary.”
Connor is on medication. Other therapies that have been recommended are Botox and brain surgery.
Connor says: “I will hopefully be receiving Botox in the coming months to reduce the mobility in some of my neck muscles.
“The brain surgery would involve one or two lead rods being implanted into my brain and wired to a battery pack which would stick out as a lump just below my collar bone – it is called Deep Brain Stimulation.
“An assistance dog would be perfect to help me with my day-to-day life, rather than the brain surgery and improve my quality of life.”
Mum Denise says: “Connor is washing cars and making car air fresheners with all proceeds going to his fund, all whist studying at University.
“I just want him to be able to get a dog as soon as possible, so he can try and move on with his life. He is such a lovely young man and this is hard for him as you can imagine.”
Connor says: “I am blown away by the generosity I have received, not only from friends and family but also strangers in helping me to reach my goal.
“An assistance dog would change my life completely and give me the confidence to do things again, knowing it will be there to keep me safe.”
The gofund me link is https://gofund.me/4a406c6f