Several generations of Tourette Syndrome supporters gathered together to make this year’s South Jersey leg of the NJ Walks for TS program unforgettable. From babies to grandparents, each person among the swarm of orange T-shirts was there for the same reason: a child they love is living with Tourette Syndrome.
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary sounds or movements known as tics. As many as 1 in 100 New Jersey children exhibit symptoms of the disorder, which is frequently accompanied by obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD, learning disabilities, and mental health conditions. All funds raised through NJ Walks for TS benefit the education outreach programs of the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders, Inc. (NJCTS) including school in-service presentations for faculty and students, leadership programs for teens and young adults with TS, and hospital-based training for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers. Donations for this effort will still be collected online at: http://www.active.com/donate/MedfordLakes2016.
The music of Vineland-area recording artist Dawson Coyle (also a teen balancing life with TS), face painting from Girl Scout Troop #21527, and giveaways from Horizon Services gave the parking lot of P.J. Whelihan’s a festival-like atmosphere. Between the fun and laughter, kids and parents took the time to encourage one another.
“Children with TS often report feelings of isolation, they’re bullied and on top of dealing with the physical challenge of tics, they have to cope with a highly visible and publicly misunderstood disorder,” said NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice. “NJ Walks for TS is an advocacy event that draws families together with other families and, since we’ve started the program in 2010, it has become quite a movement.”
Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-7) welcomed the crowd and joined Youth Co-Chairs Anna and Ava Heicklen; Dante Hale; and Anna, Sarah and Eric Baldwin to walk the route. The Assemblyman is part of the event’s Honorary Committee, which also included:
Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ-01)
Senator Jim Whelan (D-2)
Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-2)
Senator Stephen Sweeney (D-3)
Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3)
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro (D-3)
Assemblyman Arthur Barclay (D-5)
Senator James Beach (D-6)
Senator Dawn Marie Addiego (R-8)
Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R-8)
Assemblyman Joe Howarth (R-8)
Senator Samuel Thompson (R-12)
Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-12)
“Having the support of South Jersey lawmakers means so much to the families we serve,” said Rice.
In addition to Horizon Services and PJ Whelihan’s restaurant, the day was made possible by Jersey Pools & Spas, Medford Fitness, Virtua Healthcare, the Lions Club, Holman Auto Group, Elkins Chevrolet, Summerville Builders, Jetline Products, Lakes Appliance, Gary F. Gardner, Inc., Murphy’s Market, Robinson Waste Management, Russo’s Farm, and Shop Rite of Medford.
The next 5k walk/family fun run to benefit the education outreach programs of NJCTS will take place in North Jersey on Saturday, November 12 at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, NJ. Online registration for NJ Walks for TS at Bergen is available at www.njcts.org.