EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com on April 15.
SOMERVILLE – Not usually one to let a goal get by, acclaimed U.S. soccer goalkeeper Tim Howard is more than happy to make an exception for the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders (NJCTS). Howard and NJCTS are looking to score with a soccer clinic fundraiser in June.
Howard, who was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome (TS) as a child, and NJCTS have created Team Up With Tim Howard, a one-day soccer clinic on June 4 featuring the Rutgers University soccer teams at the Rutgers University Soccer Stadium, Yurcak Field in Piscataway. Kicking off a yearlong awareness campaign, the Team Up With Tim Howard soccer clinic will serve to directly benefit August’s NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy, a four-day program from teenagers that focuses on empowerment.
“Last June, the world’s eyes were on me as the goalkeeper for Team USA,” Howard said. “The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil was the experience of a lifetime, one which I treasure. Not only was I able to play my best, but I was able to bring Tourette syndrome to the world stage. I have made it my goal to debunk the myths and bullying that come with the disorder. I have found that one of the best ways to do this is to educate people.”
While he lives in England as the goalkeeper for the Everton club, Howard, is coming home and will be participating in the clinic. Howard, a native of North Brunswick, gained attention last year as the goalkeeper for Team USA, setting records for his World Cup saves.
Howard has been an integral part of the organization since it was founded. As a man living with TS, Howard is recognized globally as an advocate and role model for those — especially children — who have TS and other neurological disorders.
The hands-on clinic designed to improve soccer skills and provide awareness about TS and associated disorders. Not only will the players learn some great soccer moves, but they will also learn that a person with TS can be anything they want to be — even a world-class soccer player, said Faith Rice, NJCTS executive director and founder.
Besides running drills and signing copies of his recently released books — “The Keeper: The Unguarded Story of Tim Howard (Young Readers’ Edition)” and “The Keeper: A Life of Saving Goals and Achieving Them” — Howard will be on hand at Team Up With Tim Howard as part of the state’s Tim Howard Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day as proclaimed by Gov. Chris Christie for that date.
Families affected by TS will be reaching out to their local municipalities to do the same, Rice said.
To make the fundraiser a bigger success, NJCTS is looking for sponsors to invest in the event.
“Tim and I are asking for sponsors to team up with Tim Howard,” Rice said. “There are a variety of sponsorship opportunities. I hope many will take this opportunity to be part of this remarkable movement.”
“Even more importantly, sponsors will help a child with Tourette syndrome realize their potential as a leader — just like I did,” Howard said.
Established in 2004, the NJCTS is the nation’s first center of excellence for Tourette syndrome. Providing support and services for children and families with TS to live well, NJCTS also aims to bring awareness to TS and other neurological disorders.
Last year, NJCTS and Howard established the pilot program for the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy.
“This program had been a dream of mine and Tim’s,” Rice said. “We both know personally how important it is to develop a sense of self-worth and self-confidence early on for those with TS.”
“The intensive program helps teens living with Tourette syndrome develop skills they need to succeed as adults and gain a better understanding of their disorder,” said Howard, a member of the NJCTS Board of Directors.
Geared toward teenagers, the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy is an four-day program that focuses on teaching skills for handling life’s transitions in a positive manner and stepping out beyond the stigma of TS in a safe environment. The NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy is designed to teach teens about their disorder and also provide a toolkit for using their talents to live productive full lives, self-advocate and develop supportive networks.
Further, all participants, coaches and most presenters, including associated doctors, professors and psychologists, have TS.
Rice said last year’s NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy was a great success and the second session will be Aug. 6 to 9 at Rutgers.