LeRoy Student Speaks Out About Illness, Lack of Answers

2:18 PM, Feb 24, 2012   |    comments
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LEROY, NY - Chelsey Dumars remembers the exact moment when her uncontrollable tics began, and the teen can't stop thinking about the day when her life gets back to normal.

"I was happy before it all happened," Dumars said. "I cheered. I hung out with my friends."

But that changed late in the morning on October 31, when Chelsey started stuttering at LeRoy High School.

"And then throughout the day, it got worse, and I started twitching and everything," she said.

Her dad Dave picked her up from school.

"I didn't know what to think at the time," Dave Watson said. "How can you send your child to school perfectly normal and a couple hours later, you're picking her up in this condition?"

Chelsey's condition is similar to that of several other students in LeRoy. The symptoms include uncontrollable tics and verbal outbursts. Now, at least 15 teens, including one male, are suffering from the mystery illness.

"I hate when it happens, because my body is sore," Chelsey said. "Sometimes it gets me to the point where I want to cry from twitching so much."

Adding to the difficulty is that Chelsey is raising her 9-month-old baby girl, Bella. Luckily, Chelsey has lots of help. Her father Dave works from home, so he's around to help when needed.

"By like 4 o'clock, I'm exhausted," Chelsey said. "Because my body is just so worn out from moving so much."

Chelsey's story appeared on the Today Show Thursday morning. Several other students, including Thera Sanchez, who appeared live on the program last week.

"I'm very frustrated," Thera told Ann Curry. "No one's giving answers."

"Are you frustrated and angry," 2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten asked Chelsey. "Yea," she replied. "I don't like even going into stores, because I feel like people are staring at me and making fun of me."

Chelsey is among the 11 students who have been treated by DENT in Amherst. Her diagnosis, like the others, is conversion disorder and mass psychogenic illness.

Like many of the other girls, Chelsey's familiy wants a second opinion, especially because more teens are coming forward. The current tally of 15 patients is up from the original 12.

"It makes it even less believable," Dave said. "Because most of these girls are out of the picture now as far as going to school."

Dave and some other parents think environmental factors could have caused the illness.

Although the State Health Department and the school district say that has been ruled out due to studies, several groups want more thorough reviews. Environmentalist Erin Brockovich is among the high-profile activists now involved in the investigation.

LINK: More on Brockovich, as well as Lois Gibbs, who are both now investigating the LeRoy mystery illness.









Some of the questions she and others are raising surround natural gas wells by the school and possible toxic remnants from a 1970 train derailment near the school.

USA Today and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, both part of the Gannett family along with 2 On Your Side, have further reporting on the outside groups now coming to LeRoy.

"Whether it's environmental or whatever is going on, we have to find the answer," Dave said.



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