On June 3, NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders (NJCTS) presented scholarship awards to graduating New Jersey seniors. One of the top recipients was Kyla Butler of Jefferson Township High School. Butler was awarded the Faith W. Rice Memorial Scholarship, named after NJCTS founder and former executive director, Faith Rice, who passed away in 2021.
Tourette Syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by uncontrollable movements known as tics. As many as 1 in 100 people show signs of TS or other tic disorder which is frequently accompanied by mental health disorders including ADHD, OCD, and anxiety.
Butler was diagnosed with TS at eight years old, but the disorder did not stop her from succeeding in academics or athletics. An honor roll student, Butler is also an Elite Alpine Ski Racer and plays club soccer with World Class Fubol Club(WCFC). She recently committed to continue her ski racing career with Clarkson University in upstate New York.
“Tourette Syndrome has shaped me as a person because it taught me to own who I am and not let anyone make me feel that I am less of a person,” Butler said in her scholarship essay. “When I play my best and I ski to my true potential, my Tourette Syndrome takes a back seat. That makes the good days even better and my confidence and energy go through the roof.”
Academic achievement, community involvement and accomplishments all play a part in the NJCTS Scholarship Committee’s decision in selecting winning candidates each year. Butler has also been involved as a Youth Advocate for NJCTS, speaking about TS and how it affects her life and spreading awareness throughout New Jersey. These efforts helped her earn the memorial scholarship.
“Like our late founder, Faith Rice, Kyla embodies an indomitable spirit and a commitment to advocating and educating others about TS,” said Patricia Phillips, Executive Director of NJCTS. “She has gone above and beyond to make a difference in her community. We congratulate and thank her.”