Bayside, New York – December 11, 2008 – Nearly 12 million people watched last Sunday night’s Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of “Front of the Class,” a made-for-TV movie based on the true story of a young man’s struggles with and triumph over Tourette Syndrome (TS) to become an award winning teacher. The national Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc. (TSA) is privileged to have collaborated with Hallmark on this inspirational depiction of a much misunderstood but not uncommon neurological disorder.
TSA was approached in the early stages of Hallmark’s production to review the script to insure that the disorder was accurately portrayed medically. “We were extremely grateful for the unusual and outstanding cooperation the producers accorded a patient organization such as ours,’ said Judit Ungar, President, TSA. “Not always does the entertainment industry appreciate the fact that family advocacy organizations can be excellent resources for information. The producers were exceptionally open to our suggestions.”
Later on TSA was called upon once again to set up a focus group in Shreveport, Louisiana, where the program was filmed. This request involved contacting local families affected by the disorder and inquiring whether they would agree to be part of a scene depicting a TS support group; a scene which featured actual people – not actors-- with TS.
TSA also issued two e-mail blasts to over 23,000 Association members, including medical and educational professionals, to alert and then remind them about the December airing and to ask our contacts to help spread the word.
“We like to think that by alerting our contacts, TSA contributed not only to the success of the Hallmark special, but also served to keep the TS community informed and updated about media coverage directly relevant to their daily lives,” said Tracy Colletti-Flynn, TSA Manager of Public Relations. “We are especially grateful to Hallmark Hall of Fame for agreeing to link their homepage to national TSA’s website. This online cooperation brought many new people to our site – people who may have known very little about having TS and the effort needed to cope with the symptoms of the disorder on a daily basis.”
“We are confident that stigma, intolerance and bullying of untold numbers of children and adults with TS will be reduced significantly by those who viewed this movie,” said Judit Ungar. “We are honored to have played a part in easing the lives of people coping with TS as well as with other disabilities.”
Not surprisingly, TSA has been inundated with phone calls and e-mails from the public eager to purchase a DVD copy of the program. It will be available in all Hallmark Gold Crown Stores by the end of January, 2009.
Founded in 1972, the TSA celebrates 36 years of service to the Tourette Syndrome community worldwide and a three-pronged mission of education, research and service. TSA has over 31 chapters, two district offices and more than 125 support groups throughout the country. For more information on TS, call 1-888-4-TOURET or visit http://tsa-usa.org.
to see Brad’s TSA print public service announcement.
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