NJ Walks For TS at Ramapo College a resounding success for all involved

More than 150 walkers take part in event that raised $8,000 for NJCTS as a senior project for Ramapo’s AnnaKatharine Miehe.

MAHWAH – When AnnaKatharine Miehe first started planning the NJ Walks for TS at Ramapo College as the senior project for her Communication Arts major, she knew a bevy of time, effort and patience would have to go into the process. What she didn’t foresee was how big of a success the event would turn out to be.

More than 150 walkers and 200 people total turned out to be a part of the event on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon on April 14. Bright neon green NJ Walks For TS T-shirts dotted Ramapo’s pristine campus, with the walkers beginning and ending the nearly 3-mile trek at the college’s historic Arch. Every walker arrived and departed with a smile on their face and more knowledge about Tourette Syndrome – a neurological disorder that affects 1 in 100 children – in their minds, much to the delight of Miehe.

“After all the hard work that went into planning NJ Walks for TS at Ramapo College, I am so pleased with the turnout and the amount of money that was raised,” said Miehe, whose fundraising efforts helped bring in more than $8,000 to benefit the statewide education outreach and peer advocacy programs of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS). “I truly believe Tourette Syndrome awareness has increased on campus, and people are more familiar with the disorder. It is an honor to be able to contribute and give back to people who have always been an inspiration to me. NJCTS’ programs have proven to be incredibly beneficial for the TS community, and it is imperative to support their efforts.”

The walk attendees were a balanced mix of Ramapo College students, many of whom have connections to the campus’ rich Greek Life, and members of the New Jersey TS community. NJCTS and its membership were strongly represented as well, as the NJ Walks For TS program branched beyond its Mendham roots for the first time since its inception in 2010.

“I want to thank AnnaKatharine Miehe and Ramapo College for helping our organization put on such a fun, meaningful awareness walk,” NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice said. “The NJ Walks For TS program aims to foster self-advocacy among members of the Tourette community and create awareness of this misunderstood neurological disorder among the general public. This was a day to celebrate these accomplishments.”

Before the walk kicked off, Rice joined New Jersey Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R- 39) in presenting River Dell High School senior Emily Fleischman with the NJCTS Youth Advocate of the Year Award for her exemplary work on behalf of the organization in 2012. Fleischman also volunteered in setting up the event and walked the course with her mother, Florence.

“I want to thank NJCTS for honoring me with this prestigious award. I am flattered and thrilled beyond words,” she said. “The support for TS is amazing and appreciated.”

Schepisi was a member of the NJ Walks For TS at Ramapo College Honorary Committee, which also included U.S. Congressmen Albio Sires (D-NJ8), Leonard Lance (R-NJ7), Rush Holt (D-NJ12) and Scott Garrett (R-NJ5), and New Jersey State Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-39).

One of the most notable memories from the walk was the solidarity shown by those from the Tourette community, and it didn’t go unnoticed by one Ramapo College student.

“I thought the turnout for the event was strong given the difficulty in achieving a large turnout for any event held on a weekend, when there is far less student presence,” said the student, who wished to be cited only as Courtney. “I was struck by the number of people who attended and participated, and the enthusiasm they showed. Most were there for a specific person affected by TS – a brother, a daughter, a sister, a son – or to walk for themselves. It was impressive.”

The NJ Walks For TS at Ramapo College fundraising campaign remains open, and donations are welcome. The 4th annual NJ Walks For TS at Mendham will take place November 23. Registration and fundraising information will be available at www.njcts.org by June 1.