Tourette Syndrome student makes a pitch

Mets pitchers can’t seem to get anyone out these days. Maybe 11-year-old Marques James Seme can do the trick.
The Flushing native, who suffers from Tourette Syndrome, threw a perfect strike when he was given the privilege by New York City-based health insurer Group Health Incorporated (GHI) to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Mets-Nationals game last Tuesday night at Shea Stadium.
“I was really excited and I was really nervous,” he said. “It was pretty amazing.”
Wearing a blue and white Mets jersey with his last name on the back and a black hat turned backward, Seme sprinted to the mound with his favorite team shortly before the game’s first pitch. Shortly thereafter, he released a strike, capping an unforgettable experience.
He got the chance to meet Mets catcher Paul LoDuca, manager Willie Randolph, and the team’s ace right-hander, Pedro Martinez, a certain future Hall-of-Fame pitcher.
“It was pretty cool,” Seme said. “He shook my hand and everything.”
Others feel the same way about the engaging youngster. Despite being afflicted with Tourette, he is living a normal life. Seme plays baseball, basketball, football, and tennis. He is a solid sixth-grade student at P.S. 200 in Flushing, and assimilates very well with his classmates. His teacher last year, John Dalmolin, was also on hand. He was presented prior to the game with the GHI Mets Magic Award for his many community-service contributions.
“He’s a very intelligent student, he loves to read and he loves to work in groups with other students,” Dalmolin said. “He was able to give the class space if they needed it and other times he just synthesized with the rest of the class. … There are days he would struggle but there would always be other days he could make up for it.”
Seme was not diagnosed with the disorder until the age of seven, although his mother, Cheryl Tellis, knew there was something wrong. The symptoms went unnoticed. Since then, it has been an uphill battle.
To meet class requirements, Seme has to work extremely hard to overcome his tics. An assignment that would take one of classmates two hours, he spends six to complete. Other times, after he finishes his homework, he will rip it up, and be forced to start over.
“This is our treat for all the hard work,” Tellis said.
However, Seme does not let it affect him. In fact, he would like to be part of the Tourette Syndrome Association’s (TSA) youth ambassador program that enlightens others about the illness.
“He’s an exceptional kid,” TSA president Judit Ungar said. “He’s a kid first and then he has Tourette Syndrome. It’s just a part of him and it’s not going to take over his life.”
“I just keep trying; I can’t give up,” Seme said. “I try to do the best I can every day.”

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