Hundreds of fans joined the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS) and Rutgers Men’s Soccer in welcoming home world renowned goalkeeper and New Jersey native Tim Howard at the Team Up with Tim Howard event on June 4 at Rutgers University.
For many Team Up with Tim Howard was a chance to meet a world famous athlete. For others it was a chance to meet a hero, a Tourette Syndrome champion—proof that an individual with Tourette Syndrome can be and do anything. To others like Ethan Lederman, 14 years old from Howell, NJ, “It was the best day of my life.”
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary sounds and movements known as tics. It is estimated that 1 in 100 children show symptoms of the disorder with more than 20,000 school-aged kids in New Jersey alone.
Team Up with Tim Howard kicked-off a year-long awareness campaign benefiting the NJCTS Youth Development programs, including the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy. The Academy is a four-day intensive program in August for teenagers diagnosed with TS focusing on empowerment, self-leadership, advocacy skills and resilience.
NJCTS Youth Advocate Tess Kowalski opened the afternoon by singing the national anthem. State Senators Christopher “Kip” Bateman, James Beach, and Bob Smith represented the more than 26 towns across the state recognizing June 4th as Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day. Senator Bateman presented Esther Howard, Tim Howard’s mother, with Governor Chris Christie’s proclamation recognizing May 15 through June 15 as Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month. North Brunswick Township Councilman Ralph Andrews, on behalf of Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack, welcomed home North Brunswick native Tim Howard.
The fun-filled afternoon continued with Coach Dan Donigan and Rutgers Men’s Soccer leading a clinic for kids while DJ Yoshi and the Rutgers University Dance Team entertained the crowd. Danny Breslauer returned to Piscataway to serve as emcee for the day. Breslauer was a long-time play-by-play analyst for Rutgers sports including football, soccer, and women’s basketball. He led the audience and 320 soccer clinic participants in giving Tim Howard a welcome he’ll not soon forget.
Tim Howard met and posed for photos with fans of all ages and signed hundreds of copies of his book, The Keeper: A Life of Saving Goals and Achieving Them before joining Danny Breslauer on the field. An integral partner of NJCTS since its founding, Howard spoke to Breslauer about soccer, his experience playing in the world cup, and living with Tourette Syndrome.
Howard was diagnosed with TS as a child and has since brought TS to the world stage, sharing his inspirational message of resilience in the face of Tourette Syndrome. “Being great is within our reach,” said Howard. “The time has come that we stop making excuses. It’s time to live and thrive with Tourette Syndrome. I knew I had TS and I knew it affected my everyday life, but I never thought for a second it would stop me. Anything is possible.”
NJCTS Executive Director Faith Rice recalled the moment she first met the budding soccer star. “We were just getting off the ground then,” Rice said. “He came to us about 13 years ago when he wanted to go public with the fact that he had Tourette Syndrome. He came in on the ground floor literally. He came and volunteered. He collated and organized papers. He signed posters to our original group of kids. It was just a handful then when we started out. And that handful has grown to a statewide and regional reach and some programs have a worldwide reach.”
Tim Howard has been very public about Tourette Syndrome but at Team Up with Tim Howard he upped his game, introducing an important new initiative called The GreaTS. “I am teaming with NJCTS to bring this platform to light and open the conversation about TS,” said Howard. “Together we are building awareness for TS and, most importantly, directly helping youth find their path to personal greatness. This is a movement that asks people to stand with The GreaTS to overcome some of the challenges of TS. I have had some wonderful and proud moments in my career. Launching The GreaTS is one of them.”
For more information about NJCTS, the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy, and The GreaTS, please visit www.njcts.org or call 908-575-7350. To invest in the endowment for the Leadership Academy, visit www.gofundme.com/TimHowardTSFund.
Team Up with Tim Howard was sponsored in part by
Verizon NJShares, RUCDR Infinite Biologics, The Warner Rice Family Fund, Asurion, The Zoffinger Family Fund, Atlantic Health, South Jersey Industries, PennEast Pipeline, The Spar Family, The Tischfield Family, The Omaggio Family, The Sherbondy Family, Fresh & Co., PixiCast, JAG Physical Therapy, Connor Strong, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance, Somerset Development, Dr. Robert King, AMA Consulting, The Judy Taub Gold Foundation, Oxford Realty, The Mueller Family, Sterling Management Services, Philip and Tammy Murphy Family Foundation, and Flemington Car & Truck Company