SPOTSWOOD/HELMETTA, NJ - After a wet week, Mother Nature came through with a beautiful day for the two-mile walk from the Immaculate Conception parking lot to Helmetta's Maple Street Pavilion on Saturday. Around 75 people joined members of the Spotswood Police Department and Spotswood PBA 225 to enjoy the sunshine and the stoll to benefit Nicholas' Trek with Tourettes.
Nicholas' Trek with Touerettes was spearheaded by Appleby School fourth grader Nicholas DeLieto to raise awareness about the neurological disorder he was diagnosed with at the age of five. Tourette Syndrome is accompanied by involuntary movements and sounds defined as tics.
Dr. George Gilles de la Tourette was a French neurologist for whom the disorder is named after. Gilles de la Tourette diagnoised an elderly French woman with the symptoms in 1885. Tourettes typically affects males more than females with symptoms manifesting themselves before the child turns 18. The disorder impacts one in 100 children and adults. Individuals with Tourettes often struggle with associated disorders such as ADD/ADHA, OCD, depression, anxiety, sleep issues and mood disorders. Many children with Tourettes are misunderstood and face bullying issues in school which often leads to school phobias.
Amanda Silvers started off the walk with a speech about the New Jersey Center for Tourettes Syndrome and how it personally touched her life. Like DeLieto, Silvers was diagnosed with Tourettes at the age of five. The East Brunswick native mentors kids like DeLieto who suffer from Tourettes.
"Tourettes is much more common that people think, affecting about one in 100 individulas," Silvers said in her opening remarks. "The New Jersey Center for Tourettes Syndrome is the first and only kind in the nation."
Silvers went on to say how US soccer star and North Brunswick native Tim Howard, who was also diagnosed with Tourettes, was an inspiration to her. The East Brunswick High School alum passed on a bracelet given to her by Howard to DeLieto.
"I am so proud of Nick," Silvers said of the fourth grader's initiative to raise awareness about Tourette Syndrome.
All of the proceeds from Saturday's walk will go to benefit the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders. The NJCTS helps raise awareness about Tourettes and the disorders that often accompany it as well as offering support to families struggling with Tourettes in addition to funding research.
Participants in the walk headed out on to Manalapan Road sandwiched between Spotswood Police Department cruisers and two Spotswood Fire Department trucks for the two mile trek to Helmetta. Upon arrival at the Maple Street Pavilion, the group was treated to refreshments and music. Last year, DeLieto held a virtual walk that netted $2500 for the NJCTS, this year with the help of the Spotswood Police Department and Spotswood PBA 225, the number is closer to $4000, way past DeLieto's original goal of $3000. The founder of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders, Faith Rice, joined in with the May 18 walk as did Spotswood mayor Ed Seely and Helmetta mayor Chris Slavicek.
"Today was an absolutely amazing day for Nicholas' first annual Tourettes walk," DeLieto's mother Ashley said. "With the Spotswood Police Department and PBA Local 225's help, they made this day happen for Nick.
DeLieto's entire family, including his grandparents, parents Ashley and Alan along with his brother Xander and sister Abby, participated in today's walk as well as some of Nick's former teachers, Carol Kuhn and Barbara Silvers.
"We also want to thank the Spotswood EMS, Spotswood Volunteer Fire Department and Helmetta Fire Department for coming out and showing support as well," DeLieto added. "Having everyone come out and show Nick their support today gave him the courage to keep advocating and being open about Tourettes. Nick plans on having a second walk next year."
For additional information about Nicholas' Trek with Tourettes or to make a donation, please visit DeLieto's webpage.