EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of a periodic series on Teens4TS that will feaure the community advocacy work of teenagers with Tourette Syndrome. The debut of this series was in September and features the story of another Jersey boy whose wish was granted by the Wish Upon A Hero Foundation.
For the past 6 years, 11-year-old Joey of Manahawkin, N.J., has struggled with Tourette Syndrome, anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome. With each passing year, his quality of life has deteriorated because of those conditions and the bullying that ensued at school. One of his only sources of happiness was an iPad his family surprised him with last Christmas.
However, not long after his eyes were wide with wonder and excitement from viewing the big, bright screen for the first time, that iPad was smashed to the ground by a ruthless bully. Joey’s world – and his precious gift – was shattered, and his family could not afford to purchase him a new one.
Enter the Wish Upon A Hero Foundation, which for the past 10-plus years has swept to the rescue of kids just like Joey all over the United States. The Foundation, which has no prequalification list for granting someone a wish, listed Joey’s desire – a new iPad – on its website so that like-minded, philanthropic people from around the nation could contribute to making that wish a reality.
In late September, country music artist LeAnn Rimes became aware of Joey’s wish and granted it immediately, personally funding the project. And on October 13, Joey received his new iPad just 10 days after his 11th birthday at a surprise party thrown in his honor at the local Jersey Mike’s Subs. More than 20 people attended the party, including members of the Jersey Mike’s Corporate Office.
Wish Upon A Hero National Spokesperson for Autism, 18-year-old Cory Singer of South Plainfield, presented the iPad to Joey with the help of Wish Upon A Hero Club Officer Tommy Licato, 13, also of South Plainfield, and Wish Upon A Hero National Youth Ambassador Gracie Gutos. Both Singer and Licato also have Tourette Syndrome.
Joey and his mother, Tiffany Kurtz, were overjoyed.
“A heartfelt thank-you to super hero LeAnn Rimes, Wish Upon A Hero and all the heroes out there for making this wish so very special,” said Kurtz, who immediately requested that all of the funds raised to put on the party be donated to help another child in need. “People helping people is what it is all about. Thank you all for being you and making the world a better place by being in it. (We are) forever grateful to you all.”