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Ace Autism

December 1, 2008 07:56 PM

 
Although finishing second at a tennis tournament may be reward in itself, to 13-year-old Aaron Kupin of Boca Raton, it was just icing on the cake.  Last month, Aaron competed at the Halloween Super Series hosted by the City of Delray Beach, Oct. 11-13 at the Delray Beach Tennis Center.  He lost to No. 6 seed Skye Catena of Coral Springs in the boy’s 14 championship match; however, what Aaron gained after the tournament trumped any first place victory.

Aaron’s success was instead raising $635.00 over the two-day tournament for Autism Speaks, the National Advocacy Program for Autism.  By selling Gatorade, water, soft drinks and handing out brochures about autism to receptive players, parents, tournament staff and spectators, Aaron was able to raise awareness and funds for an epidemic disorder in our country which does not receive adequate funding for research and services.  One in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined and that rate increases by 15% every single year.

Ace Autism, his charity name, is close to his heart because his fraternal twin brother, David, has severe autism.

“I will always be my brother’s strongest advocate and best friend,” said Aaron, “and I want to do whatever I can to improve awareness of this disorder in the community and help increase funding of the national organization for Autism - Autism Speaks.”

Today, David’s disorder is very severe and he resides, temporarily, at AdvoServe in Orlando, a treatment facility serving people with exceptional behavioral and developmental challenges.  He has received intensive behavioral therapy and special education, but continues with significant language, social and speech deficits.   Aaron’s father, Warren (Professor of Medicine at the University of Miami) and mother, Talya (Ophthalmologist in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach), moved the family from Michigan nine years ago so David could attend better schools for autism. What could rip some families apart due the heavy emotional and financial burden of the disorder, has instead brought the Kupin family and their friends closer together.

“Both his mother and I couldn’t be more proud of how he has handled David and growing up with a sibling that has a disability,” said Warren.  “Aaron has never complained and has actively helped his brother all these years.”

Aaron pictured on court at the Halloween Super SeriesOver 100 junior players participated in the Halloween Super Series and all his friends helped which was exciting for Aaron.  At only 13, his tournament results have showcased his athletic talent, while his charity work has positioned him as a role model to others.

“By setting up a booth here, I thought it would be a great way to spread the word about how important autism was,” Aaron said.  “It was really nice how a few people I had never known before had donated to the cause and it was a little surprising to see how many people were so interested in autism.”

His tennis coach, Juan Nunez of Radical Tennis in Boca Raton, has decided to donate to the charity as well.  The facility runs weekly ladder tennis tournaments and the money raised through these competitions will be donated to Ace Autism. 

“They had a lot of charities they could have donated to, but this year, they picked his charity which was really nice,” Warren said.

Aaron’s goal is to raise $1,000 and to-date, he has raised $726.00. After pledging as his Bar Mitzvah project to improve autism awareness and increase money for research, he is close to reaching his goal.   

“It was really great to be able to raise money and play so well in the tournament, so it did motivate me to raise more money for the cause at other tournaments,” Aaron said. 

His next stop is the Bill Clark Fall Designated, Nov. 8-10 in Cooper City!

If you would like to donate, please visit Aaron’s website at: http://givenow.autismspeaks.org/aceautism.

Aaron in front of his autism booth

Aaron with his friends

 

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