A local high schooler will serve as official ambassador of Tourette Association of America’s 2018 National Awareness 5K Run/Walk this Sunday in Queens.
Blaise Urato, a senior at Half Hollow Hills High School West in Dix Hills, was selected for the role by the TAA. As ambassador, he will encourage participation in the event and help educate people on Tourette Syndrome, which he has, and Tic Disorders.
Urato said he was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome during his first year of high school.
“I had a really hard time accepting that this would be something I would deal with for the rest of my life,” he said. “Not only was it challenging for me, it was a learning experience for my entire family because we knew very little about TS.”
He’ll help with the TAA’s education efforts during this year’s run/walk, which kicks off 9 a.m., Sunday at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
And this isn’t Urato’s first time working with the TAA; in 2017, he became a TAA Youth Ambassador, helping him to develop friendships with others who have TS and learn how to educate the general population about the neurodevelopmental disorder.
Hills West Principal Dr. Michael Catapano said he’s seen Urato grow in leaps and bounds since he began at the school as a freshman.
“Blaise has demonstrated what it means to be successful,” Catapano said. “He has grown dramatically in his time at High School West, and always conducts himself in a respectful manner. Everyone at High School West is proud of Blaise for being selected for this outstanding recognition.”
Urato’s mother, Janice, credits Half Hollow Hills with being instrumental in her son’s growth and journey that has lead him to becoming an ambassador for this important event. “All of Blaise’s teachers, from elementary to high school, have motivated him and encouraged him to be the best he can be,” his mother said. “It is due to their support that he can tackle challenges and work hard to reach his potential.”
Urato added that being a TAA Youth Ambassador has helped him accept and handle the daily challenges he faces.
The TAA offers resources and referrals to help people and their families cope with the problems that occur with TS, and raises public awareness and counters media stereotypes about the disorder.
Amanda Talty, interim CEO of the Tourette Association, said the association’s annual run/walk grows each year. “More and more advocates come from all over the country for this heart-warming and fun race to provide support and improve the lives of those living with Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders.”
Talty continued, “In honor of National Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, the TAA is delighted to bring together the Tourette syndrome community to raise awareness and foster social acceptance of the condition that affects 1 in every 100 children between the ages of 5 and 17 years old.”
For more information on the run/walk, visit Tourette.org.