Giving Back Never Felt So Good

June 5, 2020

There are times when life throws us a curve and we need to turn to others to help get back on track. FirstEnergy employee Andrew Hendry and his wife, Lisa, found themselves reaching out for help a few years ago. And, it was the best move they could have made.

At the age of 6, their son, Ian, began showing signs of Tourette Syndrome – an inherited, neurological disorder characterized by uncontrollable sounds and movements called tics.

“Tourette Syndrome is much more common than most people think. As many as 1 in 100 individuals show some level of the disorder,” said Andrew, senior advisor, New Jersey Regulatory Affairs. “It begins in childhood and the progression varies from child to child. Some get TS more severely as they get older, some remain the same, and for some the condition improves significantly. Blessedly, Ian falls into the latter category and his TS is currently very mild.”

Andrew said much of Ian’s progress has been due to the help his family received from the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS) in Somerville, N.J.

Andrew, who has been with FirstEnergy for little more than a year, has a background in government and politics. As a result, he’s made a number of contacts thr​ough his work at the state Legislature, including Faith Rice, NJCTS’s executive director and founder.

“Faith is a wonderful advocate and was very successful in getting state funding to start the center. So, I immediately thought of her and the center when Ian began showing symptoms,” he said.

Ian, now 14, is a straight-A student and a great athlete.

Andrew (c.), wife, Lisa (l.), Ian (r.) and daughter, Kathryn, pause for a selfie while visiting Northern England.

Paying it Forward

L.-r.: Faith Rice, U.S. Rep. Sires and Andrew at the awards ceremony recognizing Sires for his tireless efforts in helping establish the NJCTS. In 2019, he reintroduced bill H.R. 1131, Collaborative Academic Research Efforts (CARE) for Tourette Syndrome, into Congress. The CARE Act would require the NIH (National Institutes of Health) to award grants and contracts to academic, healthcare and other institutions to support the establishment of Collaborative Tourette Syndrome Research Centers
in different regions of the country.

Andrew has served on the NJCTS board of directors since 2013 and was elected board chairman in 2017. As chairman, Andrew oversees the center’s budget, executive director and assists in the oversight and establishment of various programs.

He also served as emcee for the center’s awards ceremony which recognized local leaders, including U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (8th District New Jersey).

“I was involved in selecting Congressman Sires as an award recipient. He’s supported TS issues for a long time and was Speaker of the Assembly when I worked there,” said Andrew. “Giving the speech at his award ceremony really stood out for me because it brought together my career in government and politics and my interest in TS issues and volunteer work.”

Andrew’s support of the center runs deep and is very meaningful for him.

“I’m happily giving back to the center for not only the way it greatly benefitted Ian, but also for the great things it’s doing for others. I want to continue to help the center so it can continue to help others,” he said.

NJCTS was established in 2004, with the goal of providing support to New Jersey families needing assistance and services after a loved one is diagnosed. Since then, NJCTS has grown in stature – receiving global distinction for its programming and partnerships that have resulted in first-ever breakthrough research findings into the genetic causes of Tourette Syndrome.

Visit the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome website*​ to learn more.


*By clicking this website’s link in this article, you are entering a website maintained by an outside party, which is entirely responsible for the site’s content.