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North Brunswick family embarking on campaign to create Tourette Syndrome awareness

Elizabeth Viola, left, of The Parsons School receives her 2013 NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome Educator of the Year Award from former student Ally Abad of North Brunswick.
Elizabeth Viola, left, of The Parsons School receives her 2013 NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome Educator of the Year Award from former student Ally Abad of North Brunswick.
NORTH BRUNSWICK – Ally Abad was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in 2009. The 14-year-old North Brunswick native since has endured an extremely bumpy journey full of dead ends with medication and difficulties figuring out special education plans such as 504s and IEPs. But Abad has endured, and now she’s assisting others facing similar situations.

Abad and her mother, Susan Everett, are avid supporters of the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS), which offers myriad programs and services to the 1 in 100 Garden State children and families affected by the neurological disorder. Abad and Everett are presently throwing their time and resources behind NJCTS’ NJ Walks for TS at Princeton event, which is scheduled to take place Sunday, April 6, at Mercer County Park in West Windsor.

NJ Walks for TS at Princeton exists to benefit the NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Program, which over the past 10 years has annually awarded scholarships to graduating New Jersey high school students with Tourette Syndrome who have demonstrated extraordinary academic achievement, community service and accomplishments as an individual with TS.

“NJCTS has been there with us through the worst of it,” Susan Everett says. “I don’t know what we as a family would have done without their guidance and support. So to show how much we appreciate all the work they put in at the Center, our family and friends are walking to support this wonderful organization.”

Everett recalls the day she and her daughter picked up the phone several years ago and spent more than an hour talking to a member of the NJCTS staff. The help they received has proved invaluable, a refrain Everett repeatedly has heard from other Tourette Syndrome parents around the state.

“After the call, I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt like, ‘We can do this,’ ” Everett says. “Over the years, with NJCTS’ help and the wonderful support of other TS moms, our road is now a much smoother, paved road. It’s not a highway and still has its speed bumps and potholes, but when we hit one, we know advice and help is just a call away.”

Abad’s confidence and ability to cope with her Tourette Syndrome symptoms – namely, involuntary sounds and movements known as tics – has risen sharply since her diagnosis in 2009, and now the Greater Brunswick Charter School student is proud to take advocacy and awareness into her own hands by forming the “Alpha Toast Team for TS” for NJ Walks for TS at Princeton.

“When I was first diagnosed, it was mainly about me and my family educating ourselves about Tourette’s and how to deal with it on a daily basis,” she says. “Now that I’m older, it’s been more about educating other people. We have so far to go in the study of Tourette Syndrome and its co-morbid disorders, but with the cooperation of teachers, therapists, doctors and the general public, we can get one step closer to solving the mystery.”

The "Alpha Toast Team for TS" hopes to raise $1,000, which would take a big chunk out of the $10,000 NJCTS wishes to collect. All proceeds will benefit the NJCTS Children's Scholarship Program.

To support Abad and Everett’s NJ Walks for TS at Princeton team, please visit http://www.active.com/donate/NJWalks4TSPrinceton/alphatoast. For more information about NJ Walks for TS at Princeton, including registration and fundraising opportunities, please visit http://www.njcts.org or call 908-575-7350.

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