November 29, 2022
Jayzen Oppelt is draining three pointers at the Legacy Courts basketball complex in Lafayette. The 12-year-old has been making steady progress on all facets of his game, from dribbling to layups to making the long-range shot. “I’ve been playing since I was little, then took a break from it, and started again over the summer,” says Jayzen. His mother, Candice, says basketball is what helped Jayzen through the challenges of Tourette syndrome. “Anytime he’s having a bad day, he always goes and plays basketball.” Jayzen agrees, saying, “It's just a fun thing to do to get your mind off of things.”
Playing basketball seemed like a distant dream when Jayzen was a baby. His parents knew something was wrong when he couldn’t sit up and would cry nonstop. An MRI revealed that white matter in his brain was not fully developed. He’s undergone years of developmental, occupational, and physical therapy. Along the way, there were concerns he wouldn’t be able to walk, but Candice says he has overcome medical hurdles his entire life. “He’s now a high-ability student and has overcome so many challenges.”
ADHD and severe anxiety are among the diagnoses, in addition to Tourette, that lead to daily struggles. However, the care at Riley Children’s Health has been instrumental. “Every doctor, every nurse, every Child Life Specialist… everyone that works there has always been absolutely amazing,” says Candice.
That care inspired Jayzen and his family to support Riley with donations and fundraisers over the years. Now, they look forward to sharing Jayzen’s story as a Riley Champion. “He wants to help other kids with Tourette and those with the same situations that he’s been through,” says Candice. “He wants to help them through their rough times because he knows he’s struggled. And that’s going to help him, too.”