by Ana Kolevzon, 12 years old
Autism has always been talked about in our family of four. That’s because my sister, Mila, 10, and I are lucky enough to have a dad who works to help people with #autism every day for his job. My dad is Dr. Alexander Kolevzon MD, Child Psychiatrist and Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. He works at the Seaver Autism Center at The Mount Sinai Hospital to provide therapy and treatment to boys and girls who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, teaches young researchers, and also conducts research himself.
My family also knows firsthand what it’s like to have a family member with autism. My cousin, Roy, 20, was diagnosed with autism when he was young. I’m really close with him even though he lives in Israel and it’s hard to see how the symptoms of autism affect him every day of his life. He is the sweetest, most compassionate person, and I always knew I wanted to take action in some way to help him and others with autism.
This year will be my third year riding my bike at Wall Street Rides FAR – for Autism Research, which is in White Plains, New York on October 7th and benefits the Autism Science Foundation (ASF). ASF is a nonprofit organization that provides funds to scientists to conduct #research to find out what the causes of autism are, and to develop better treatments for people like Roy. The first year, my dad and I rode the 10-mile course and then took on the 20-mile course in the second year of the ride. I have been riding my #bike since I was five years old but this was harder than I thought it would be! I didn’t mind, though, because the ride through the colorful fall leaves is beautiful and I love spending time with my dad for a cause that’s so important to us. Also, the whole time that we’re riding, we’re looking forward to the great food and fun music at the finish festival. This year will be the first time that my sister, Mila, will be old enough to ride her bike with us – I can’t wait!
I’m so glad that although my sister and I are still young, we have the opportunity to raise money and awareness about something that has impacted my family in so many different ways. Autism not only affects the person who has the diagnosis but also their family and friends who support them every day. Every mile that I ride and every dollar that I raise helps ASF and researchers get closer to finding more ways to help people like my cousin. It’s important that people everywhere support organizations like the Autism Science Foundation – and it can be done by doing something that you love, like riding your bike!