12-year-old athlete overcomes adversity, donates gear to kids who can't play
COLWOOD, B.C. -- This story could start with a video showing Ford playing with his first lacrosse stick when he was two.
“Ever since then, it hasn’t been out of his hand,” says Tiffany, his mom, with a laugh.
This story could also start with the picture of the time Ford wouldn’t let go of his little brother’s hand – a little brother so sick he was about to be airlifted to hospital with no guarantee he’d return.
“(Ford’s) air-pumping the air with his other hand. He’s like, ‘We got this! You’re coming home!” Tiffany says. “That’s the moment where I said, ‘This kid is different.’”
That determined optimism helped his little brother’s recovery. It also helped Ford cope with being bullied for having Tourette’s Syndrome.
“There are people who try to take you down. Don’t listen to them,” Ford says. “Because there are also people who will try to bring you up.”
Ford is striving to be a “bringer-upper.” Which brings us back to lacrosse.
“It’s fun, a challenge,” Ford explains. “And lacrosse is my medicine in a way.”
Ford says playing the sport helps stop the syndrome’s uncontrollable, sometimes painful tics.
“If (lacrosse) gets taken away, my Tourette’s gets really bad,” Ford says.
When the pandemic cancelled his local games, the tics got worse, so Ford asked his mom if he could attend a weeks-long lacrosse camp on the mainland.
Tiffany reluctantly said no.
“It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to look at my kid and say. We couldn’t do it,” Tiffany says.
It was just too much money, she told him, when there was so much economic uncertainty. So Ford started thinking.
“I was like, what if I could do something to play,” he starts recalling with a smile. “(The plan) just came to my mind.”
The 12-year-old decided to email local businesses and seek sponsorships. It worked. Ford inspired seven companies to cover his expenses and attended the tournament. Although it felt good to play and felt good to have his Tourette’s symptoms subside, “it felt really good that people in this world will help you.”
So Ford started wondering how he could make others feel the same way, and asked his mom if he could start collecting used sports gear to give to kids who couldn’t afford it.
Tiffany reluctantly said no.
“I feel like I’m the mom who always says no,” she says.
Tiffany couldn’t have been more proud of Ford’s kind intentions. It’s just they had no space in their house to make the plan work.
“Then a couple weeks later he comes to me and says, ‘You’re going to get a call from a guy in Toronto,” Tiffany recalls with a laugh. “And I’m like, ‘Ford! What have you done now?!’”
“I reached out to storage unit owners,” Ford says. “And of them gave me a storage locker.”
Now Ford is starting to fill that donated space at The Storage Locker in Langford with gently used gear for all sorts of sports. He’s also accepting donations for his project through a GoFundMe page, and website.
“Kids should be able to play sports without a barrier,” Ford says. “Playing sports might help kids the way it’s helped me.”
And Ford’s story might just inspire others too, to never stop pumping the air with determined optimism.