The 5th annual NJ Walks for TS at Mendham event is set to take place Saturday, November 15, in New Jersey’s picturesque Morris County. Funds raised by this year’s walk will benefit the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) Education Outreach Program, which trains teachers, doctors, nurses and other professionals about how to identify, diagnose and manage TS.
Many of the programs involve Youth Advocates, and their work is coming full circle. The 2014 Youth Co-Chairs are a product of NJCTS outreach and training.
Each member represents a different stage in growing up and a different stage of involvement in NJCTS advocacy programs. What these uniquely talented young people share is a commitment to helping others with TS live in a world more tolerant and accepting to this misunderstood condition.
Sarah Ethridge of Chatham and Tommy Licato of South Plainfield are experienced advocates: Both were selected to the inaugural class of the Tim Howard NJCTS Leadership Academy. They travel to hospitals across New Jersey (and even Yale University) to educate doctors about TS and deliver anti-bullying school in-service presentations to hundreds of students.
Tommy is in his mid-teens, Sarah is a high school senior, and they are joined by 11-year-old Erin Miskell of Nutley. They each play an important role in this year’s walk and encourage others to get involved. Here’s a little bit about each co-chair:
Chances are, if you’ve attended the walk in the past, you’ve received a cheery phone call from Sarah this summer. She has spent months reaching out and personally inviting hundreds of walkers, runners and teams to return, raise awareness and walk with us on November 15.
She’s a busy girl in her own right. In addition to her work with NJCTS, the Chatham resident is a trained singer. You’ll get to hear her perform the National Anthem at the walk. But between school, sports and other time demands, Sarah encourages other busy people to join the walk because its benefits extend far beyond the day itself.
“At some point, we all make a decision to get involved,” said Ethridge, who says being part of the walk is “so much more important than the time restraint.”
Erin, a creative fifth-grader, is just getting started in public advocacy through NJCTS, but she is already making a very big impact, She is at the heart of “Team E” -a large and enthusiastic team that has been part of the NJ Walks at TS since its inception. Her life with TS is an inspiration to many, and she’s proud to count her friends and family among the hundreds who gather on that special November morning.
Erin is excited to be a Youth Co-Chair because she simply “wants to raise awareness to help other kids,” and invites newcomers to join her and Team E in Mendham because “it’s fun and you’re helping people for a good cause.”
Tommy is spreading the word about Tourette Syndrome and inviting friends, family and classmates to step out on November 15th. Tommy’s become quite a force for NJCTS; he organizes fundraisers, awareness events and was just recognized as a “Kid Who Makes Magic” by Magic 98.3 FM.
Tommy knows it takes courage to register, start a team or ask for donations. He offers this advice: “Talk to your friends and family about how you are doing a walk for TS and ask if they would do it with you,” he said. As for donations, “every bit helps this important cause.”
Courage and commitment by young people, to benefit young people through NJCTS. If you love someone with TS, register today and stand alongside them in this walk for a brighter future. Erin, Sarah, Tommy demonstrate that this cause is worth your time and giving. Their example shows that there is room for everyone, regardless of age or advocacy experience, to step up.