There’s nothing that the love of family can’t accomplish.
Together, the Garcia family of Rahway is working hard to raise awareness of Tourette Syndrome and improve understanding of the complex disorder among healthcare providers and educators. They are the host family of this year’s NJ Walks for TS at Mendham, a 5K walk and fun run on November 14th.
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements or sounds known as tics. TS affects as many as 1 in 100 people, or an estimated 20,000 school-age children in New Jersey today.
“Not many people know that TS is a syndrome that does not come alone, it encompasses other disorders and disabilities,” said Clarivel Garcia, mother of three girls, the youngest of which has TS.
For the Garcias, Tourette Syndrome advocacy is a family affair.
Sarah Garcia, the youngest of three girls, lives with TS. Her older sisters, Clarisavel and Leandra, along with their mom and dad, Jose, are each raising awareness in their own way. Earlier this year, Leandra won Miss Middlesex County Outstanding Teen 2015 for the Miss America organization.
“The [contestant] Queens are encouraged to be involved with the community and pick an organization close to their hearts,” said Clarivel. “She picked NJCTS for the past three years to spread awareness in honor of her little sister.”
The goal of her family’s participation in NJ Walks for TS at Mendham, according to Clarivel, is to “help the walk raise sufficient funds to continue to educate schools, teachers, students, and families in the community.”
“The public should attend NJ Walks for TS to help educate the community and provide support for the other diagnoses that may be involved,” said Clarivel. “Attending this event will give TS more positive exposure and, in the long run, help reach many areas of support needed by our families and communities.” Registration is available at www.njcts.org.
All proceeds from NJ Walks for TS benefit the Education Outreach Program of the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS). The outreach includes on-site training for doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, and students at schools and hospitals across the state; college workshops for educators-in-training; peer presentations to encourage acceptance and anti-bulling; and youth leadership training. NJ Walks for TS at Mendham began in 2010 and serves as the flagship event in North Jersey as the movement has grown to include NJ Walks in Central (Princeton) and South Jersey (Medford Lakes).
NJ Walks for TS is making it possible for NJCTS to provide the latest information to help professionals identify, diagnose and manage TS and its associated disorders.
“We have reached 82% more educators and students in the past year alone,” said NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice. “This is a testament to the success of NJ Walks for TS, but we still have more professionals, children and families to reach.”
“You don’t have to have a personal connection to TS to help make life better for thousands of children and families across the state,” said Rice. “Join us for a fun day in Mendham or consider making a donation—all proceeds will go to work at school or hospital near you.”
The Garcia family is working to make this year’s event the biggest yet. To join them, or to contribute to the outreach work happening across the state, visit www.njcts.org.
NJ Walks for TS at Mendham is set for Saturday, Nov. 14th at Mendham Borough Park at the intersection of Mountain and Park Avenues. The event is rain or shine and check-in will begin at 8 a.m. For more information about the event, or to learn more about Tourette Syndrome, visit www.njcts.org.