BRIDGEWATER – The Stanleys are the proud parents of TJ – a happy, healthy teenage boy who just so happens to have Tourette Syndrome. But having the neurological disorder that affects as many as 1 in 100 kids doesn’t stop TJ from leading a normal, productive life.
That is one of the many messages the Stanleys hope to convey when they take part in the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders’ (NJCTS) first annual statewide Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day on Sunday, April 29, with the Somerset Patriots Baseball Club at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater.
“This is an opportunity to spend a spring afternoon with family, friends and the Somerset Patriots, and to spread awareness about Tourette Syndrome,” said Lee Stanley, whose family was among the first to purchase the $10 tickets to the event that are available only through NJCTS. “The single biggest hurdle (for our son) has been the lack of understanding about the disorder. Each new environment and interaction requires the effort to inform and educate. An afternoon at the ballpark provides a very enjoyable opportunity to reach a much larger audience. We are looking forward to it.”
Corrine Larsen, a local mother of a child with Tourette, agrees with Stanley and hopes the stands of TD Bank Ballpark will be filled with both people advocating for better understanding of TS and those seeking to learn more about the disorder so that they can help others.
“Bringing awareness to Tourette Syndrome is so important to families afflicted with this disorder. Tourette’s is so misunderstood by family, friends, especially strangers and sadly even teachers. It is important to stress the widespread degrees of the disorder, meaning mild vocal and/or physical tics to severe tics,” Larsen said via a status update on NJCTS’ Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/TouretteSyndrome. “When awareness is brought to Tourette Syndrome, those afflicted can at least hope for acceptance and freedom from being teased or looked at as, quite frankly, a freak. It will bring much-needed education to those who are educating our kids with Tourette’s. Awareness can bring a safe haven for those afflicted.”
Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day, which will feature the Patriots playing the Long Island Ducks at 1:05 p.m. (with the gates opening at noon), will be the centerpiece of the first Tourette Syndrome Awareness Week, April 23-29. A complete schedule of events for the week will be released during the first or second week of April.
The goal of Tourette Syndrome Awareness Week is to promote advocacy for Tourette Syndrome and the programs/services of NJCTS as the only agency in the state and one that leads the nation in supporting the needs of families, professionals and researchers dealing with TS and associated disorders. Proceeds from Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day will benefit the programs and services of NJCTS.
Prior to the start of the game on April 29, there will be on-field presentations in recognition of NJCTS scholarship winners, the Educator of the Year and the Healthcare Provider of the Year. These presentations will begin at approximately 12:40 p.m.
Beginning at noon, kids will have the opportunity to take part in a pregame autograph session with the Patriots on the field. The first 1,500 kids in attendance also will receive a Patriots Youth Jersey, courtesy of Raritan Valley Orthodontics. Following the game, kids will be allowed to run the bases in the Diamond Derby.
Tickets to Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day are available only through NJCTS and can be obtained by visiting www.njcts.org/ts-awareness-day-2012.php. Group sales and corporate sponsorship opportunities also are available by calling 1-908-575-7350.
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