Hello my beautiful readers! Today, I wanted to share something amazing with you that is very close to my heart.
Not too long ago, I sort of came out about having been diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. It was something I was open about, but never really announced to everyone. One night, after a particularly difficult shift at work, I realized that I really wanted people to know what I was going through. I wanted everyone to understand how difficult it made things, especially my passion for drawing. I wasn’t looking for pity or attention, I just wanted folks to be a little more educated about what it means to have a disorder like mine.
When I posted my story, it seemed like everyone had encouraging things to say and even wanted to help. My mom’s boyfriend was digging around and he read about an animator who also had Tourette’s! I almost couldn’t believe my eyes, so I did a little digging of my own.
Chance Raspberry had a childhood that was similar to mine in some ways. He was the odd one out. The weird kid. He loved cartoons, and had a deep passion for creation and expression. He knew he wanted to be one of the minds behind the scenes one day.
When he was 8, Chance was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. This disorder was newly discovered at the time, and very little was known about it. But instead of letting it hinder him, the little boy continued to chase his passion. He drew almost every day. Eventually, through his school California State University, he landed an internship at Fox Animation Studios. Later, with some hard work, he got hired to be an animator for the Simpsons.
Chance is perhaps best known for his animation at Fox, but right now he is working on becoming known for something else. Something amazing.
Little Billy is a cartoon that Chance has been working on for about 15 years now, animated in the classic style of the Looney Tunes and filled with 80’s nostalgia. He is the first cartoon character to have a rare neurological condition, called UHS, (or Ultra Hyper-Sensitivity). The condition is fictitious but based on the symptoms of real disorders, so kids with any syndrome can relate! Growing up, no one understood or had the problems I did, and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I know other kids dealing with a disorder feel the same way. Little Billy is going to change all that.
The importance of representation on TV is real. Our first Disney Princess of color was Tiana in 2009, and since then girls of African descent everywhere no longer have to ask whether they can be princesses too. Drop Dead Diva taught us that size and sexiness do not correlate, and plus sized women don’t have to be goofy sidekicks or props. Little Billy can teach us that people with disorders do not have to be the butt of jokes. He will give the world an opportunity to see what goes on behind closed doors, in the life of a family with a child who has a neurological condition. My own mother was judged for most of my life because everyone thought she was just a bad mom, when in reality I just had more energy and emotion than I knew how to control!
When I first read about Little Billy, I was overcome with tears and joy. I saw myself in this little boy. The challenges he faces, his energy, sensitivity and demeanor were real in my life. Chance pulled these traits and experiences from his own childhood. When I reached out to him, I really wasn’t sure if he would answer a nobody like me. But he actually cared and asked about my tics. This is how I knew that Little Billy has to happen. Somebody who has gone through what I’ve gone through has overcome the challenges he’s faced, and is pouring his soul into showing other kids that they can overcome too. This is the kind of influence I wish I had early in my life, and the kind of influence kids need right now. And right now, Chance is spending day after day single-handedly animating the pilot episode to bring this project to life. But he needs your support.
To keep up with all things Little Billy, visit his website! Here you can learn more about the project, watch the trailer, read FAQs and check out Billy’s backstory. And even if you can’t donate now, I highly recommend signing up for the newsletter to keep updated on the release of the pilot. Billy even has his own Facebook Page and Twitter! Go ahead and give him a like, you’ve got more to gain than to lose.
I’m reaching out to all the families who have been misunderstood and judged, the weird kids who have been singled out, and to kind and caring people with love in their hearts. Help us spread the word so that Little Billy will become a household name, and bring everybody one step closer to understanding what Special Needs really means.