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For 12-year-old Ford Preston, Lacrosse is much more than just a game.
“Well if it was a scale from 1-10, it’d be a 10,” said the 12-year-old.
And for as long as he can remember, the sport has brought him friendships, tournament road trips and plenty of highlights. But whether it was practice or a game, having a stick in his hand also served as his most effective source of therapy, as Preston lives with Tourette’s syndrome.
“Lacrosse is kind of like my medicine for that,” said Preston, who’s played lacrosse since he was four years old.
Preston’s form of Tourette’s causes involuntary movements and ticks — everything from blinking and sneezing to more severe symptoms that can cause physical damage.
“He developed this really hard backward head bob,” said Tiffany Magionis, Ford’s mother. “It actually started making alignment issues in his upper spine.”
When COVID-19 restrictions went into full effect last spring, Preston’s lacrosse season came to an end. Thus, his most effective form of therapy was gone.
“The love he has for the sport was taken away but also what he uses to cope with his Tourette’s was taken away at the same time,” said Magionis. “It was uneasy waters for him for a while.”
With few options left, last summer Ford found a lacrosse camp running out of the lower mainland. Due to financial restraints, however, his family couldn’t afford to send Ford to the camp. That’s when the 12-year-old decided to take matters into his own hands.
“He reached out to the community and the community supported him,” said Magionis. “Amazingly, he raised all the money on his own, he wrote a sponsorship letter.”
That experience introduced Ford to the power of community and made him realize the profound impact sports have had on his life.
Feeling grateful, Ford set a new goal.
“A couple weeks later he comes to me and he says, ‘mom you’re going to get a call from a guy in Toronto, and I’m like Ford what did you do now,'” said Magionis.
The call was from the management company for The Storage Room in Langford. Ford needed some space for his next endeavor.
“I said absolutely,” said Greg Burke, owner of The Storage Room. “I said the fact that we’ll help someone else that’s local is fantastic.”
Ford is once again rallying the community. This time, however, it’s to help others.
“I’m gathering lacrosse equipment for kids who don’t have the gear,” said Preston, who’s since expanded beyond lacrosse equipment.
Within just a few weeks, Preston has gathered several helmets, sticks, shoes, gloves and more.
“I’m very proud,” said Magionis. “Just his resiliency and his determination and breaking down barriers not only for himself but also others.”
All of the gear will be distributed to boys and girls in the greater Victoria area who could use a little assist. And Ford is happy to be the set-up man giving the gift that’s given him so much joy.
“Sports is really fun and so I think kids will like it if they just get the opportunity,” said Preston.
For anyone interested in donating used equipment or cash, click here for more information.