PISCATAWAY, NJ - — Superstar Goalkeeper and North Brunswick native Tim Howard and the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS) scored big with the Team Up with Tim Howard event on June 4, from 3-5pm. NJCTS welcomed Howard of the 2014 World Cup Team USA and Everton Football Club back to his home state of New Jersey for Team Up with Tim Howard at Rutgers University’s Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ.
Hosted by NJCTS and Rutgers Men’s Soccer, the afternoon kicked off a yearlong fundraising and awareness campaign to benefit the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy, a four-day program in August for teenagers focusing on empowerment, teaching self-leadership, advocacy skills, and resilience.
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements or sounds known as tics. It is estimated that 1 in 100 children show signs of the disorder—as many as 20,000 school aged kids in New Jersey alone. TS is frequently accompanied by ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mental health conditions and learning disabilities. Kids with TS are at increased risk for bullying and report feelings of isolation due to their condition. Tim Howard's message is one of encouragement, acceptance and self-advocacy.
An integral partner of NJCTS since its founding, Howard will speak about soccer, his experience playing in the World Cup, and living with Tourette Syndrome (TS). Howard was diagnosed with TS as a child and has since brought TS to the world stage. “If I can inspire a young person with Tourette Syndrome or an ambitious soccer player, then I feel like it's all worth it. I think these are the days that make me feel the best,” Tim Howard said. “Winning is fun, but those moments that you can touch someone's life in a very positive way are better.”
The Tim Howard Leadership Academy increases teens’ understanding of their disorders and provides opportunities and a safe environment to explore and identify their strengths, challenges, needs, and skills. The Academy provides a space to build critical skills that will help young people with TS, like Tim Howard, to excel and, through that success, inspire others.
According to Tourette Syndrome advocate and East Brunswick resident Barbara Silvers, the event included members of the Rutgers University Men's Soccer Team who worked out with Howard and the children who signed up for the event. The afternoon, which included an inspirational speech by Tim Howard, was funded by the Pepsi Challenge.
Youth Ambassador Amanda Silvers, a 2013 graduate of East Brunswick High School, and herself a soccer goalie, will coach children with Tourette Syndrome at Rutgers this summer, helping them to learn to advocate for themselves and to build confidence in their abilities. The students will later present to New Jersey schools as part of the Tim Howard Leadership Academy.
Tim Howard's memoir The Keeper tells the story of the athlete's rise to success from "keeper" of the North Brunswick High School Soccer team and the New York Metrostars to international sensation following last year's world cup. Howard also candidly discusses his own experience with Tourette Syndrome and the impact it has had on his personal life and his professional life in soccer..