"Cochran County 9-1-1. What's your emergency?"
Ryan Davis has come a long way to become an emergency dispatcher and answer the phone in a crisis. He reaches out to others with a calm voice and says, "Ok, is your front door open?"
His high school years were the most difficult because that's when his symptoms flared. He experienced jerking, making loud noises, clenching his teeth, and blinking his eyes really hard. That's how it started at age 7, when Ryan was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. It's a nervous system disorder that brings repetitive movements or unwanted sounds.
But with the stress of adolescence, Ryan's symptoms began to worsen.
He would blurt inappropriate words for no reason, and not even realize what he had said.
I asked him if he would holler 'shut up'. Ryan said, "No much worse. We can't even say it on TV."
And Ryan says it's hurtful to watch how some movies paint a picture of patients with Tourette Syndrome. He says, "People think it's funny. But it's not funny."
With some help from doctors and a special teacher, Ryan learned to manage his outbursts. Eventually, he was even able to wean himself off medication after graduating from Morton High School.
Kathy Been says, "I'm so proud of him!" She was his special education teacher in high school. But more than that, she was a family friend who had helped Ryan through some tough times since his diagnosis.
Today, at age 35, Ryan is not only a respected dispatcher in Morton, but he has been on the city council for three years.
And a few months ago, he was elected the new Mayor of Morton.
Kathy says, "When he said he was running for Mayor I said, "You go, guy!"
Ryan says it's hard to describe the feeling of satisfaction he feels in what he has accomplished. But he gives all the credit to the people in Morton, the place he calls his safe zone.
He says, "Everybody knows me here. It really does show the kind of community we are."
Kathy agrees. She says, "They know how compassionate Ryan can be and that he wants to take care of the community that has helped and supported him for all these years."
So, when you go to city hall, you'll see three walls lined with beautiful portraits of former mayors in Morton. Likewise, when Ryan finishes his first term, another portrait will be added to that history lesson.
How ironic that the little boy who faced a major challenge in life will find a place forever on the Morton wall of honor.
Copyright 2016 KCBD. All rights reserved.