(WJLA) - Twelve-year-old Jack Varanelli has a dream: one day, he would love to be a member of Team USA and play in the World Cup – just like his hero, current team goalie and World Cup star Tim Howard.
“Tim Howard inspired me a lot...Tourette's can't stop you from doing anything really," he says.
It turns out that Jack and Howard do have a lot in common. They both suffer from Tourette Syndrome, a condition where the sufferer makes involuntary noises or body tics.
“It's kind of like your brain doesn't have a stop sign," explains Jack.
Just before the World Cup began, Jack’s mother found a Facebook post about Howard and his battle to conquer Tourette’s and his work in educating the public about the condition:
"We have definitely been looking for people to say, 'Jack, there are other people who have been in your shoes and have done these great things.' To have somebody who really understands and who has really been there is a great thing."
So the Varanelli family – Jack, his mother, father, sisters, and brother – followed every second of Team USA’s adventure through the World Cup. They were pleasantly amazed by Howard’s heroic performances in goal and the grace with which he has handled himself off the field.
"Tim Howard inspires me and I inspire other people. It's kind of like a chain," says Jack.