NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Blaise Urato was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome four years ago. Since then he has been on a mission to raise awareness about the neurodevelopmental disorder that he says so many people aren't familiar with.
"I get asked all the time if I'm making noises, you know, 'Are you OK? Are you choking?'" he said.
Blaise wants people to know that not only is he OK, he is also smart, handsome, and friendly. The 18-year-old is just unable to control the vocal and motor tics that go along with the disorder.
"I roll my shoulders, I kick out my leg, roll my feet," he said.
The involuntary kicking in earth science class two years ago is actually what caught his girlfriend's attention.
The senior at Half Hollow Hills West in Dox Hills, Long Island, is making a name for himself in the best way possible. He was chosen by the Tourette Association of America as the official ambassador and spokesperson for this year's National Awareness Walk.
"I definitely help show kids anything is possible and that you can do anything," Blaise said. "You can't let Tourette's define you and who you are."
Those are important lessons for anyone.
"He has taught me to accept and to live every day in a positive manner," Janice Urato, his mom, said, "and not to let the little things get me down."
Special education teacher Timothy Lamb said, "He was always willing to accept help from others, he's always willing to seek out help from others and find out who to turn to."
One in every 160 children between the ages of 5 to 17 in the United States has Tourette syndrome, according to the Tourette Association of America.
"It's not a big deal," Blasie said. "Honestly, it's really not that big of a deal."
He said he attributes his optimistic outlook to his strong support system, plans to pursue a degree in aviation, and hopes his dream of becoming a pilot will one day take flight.