Aaron Perl, 11, Inspired By Friend’s Uncle To Swim Hudson River And Raise Money For Charity

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A young athlete about to start sixth grade is also set to take a one-mile swim in the Hudson River as a special gift to his friend.

Aaron Perl is just 11 years old and he’s swimming as a Bat Mitzvah gift for his friend, Ally Witt, and to make a big difference for others.

“Life is about doing things for other people,” Aaron said.

The friends have been inspired by Ally’s uncle, Jeff, who is mentally disabled.

“He’s so brave, he’s really friendly and he’s a fabulous uncle,” Ally said.

For her Mitzvah project, Ally raised $6,000 for the Association For The Help of Retarded Citizens, the organization that has helped her uncle and so many others.

A Mitzvah project is a charitable service project for many young people in the Jewish community. Ally and Aaron said they plan to keep working on this one every year.

“All the money is going to a respite home, which is where disabled people can live if they’re too old to live with their parents,” Ally said.

And now Aaron is continuing the fundraising with his charity swim called “Mitzvah on the Hudson.”

“It’s good that I can do this since I’ve gone through stuff, harder stuff, I know how it is,” Aaron said.

That harder stuff was the surgery and excruciatingly painful process of lengthening his leg after being born with a shortened femur. At 8 years old, Aaron and his father started competing in triathlons. He has since completed 13 of them.

But it is the swim he’s training for now and that he’s hoping will inspire others to do something.

“It doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter if you raise 10 bucks or a 1,000 bucks, it’s still making a difference,” Aaron said.

Aaron plans to hit the Hudson at 1 p.m. this Sunday and is hoping a lot of kids will come and cheer him on, and be inspired to start their own charity projects.  It will start at 99th Street and will end at the 79th Boat Basin.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Cindy Hsu
  • Robin

    So inspiring! Go Aaron!!

  • Maryann L

    It’s amazing and inspiring to see a child so young understand the importance and necessity of helping others. 11 year old Aaron serves as a role model to the rest of us adults. I hope his example will encourage others to find ways to help in their communities. Congratulations Aaron! What a great kid!

  • Mitch

    Thanks Rob, he is a great kid and I am proud beyond belief.
    His Dad,

  • Mitch Perl

    The Hudson River happens to be the greatest “come back” story of any river in the Country. The Hudson River is the cleanest it’s been in over 100 years! Twenty -four pairs of Bald Eagles where set free over the Hudson River about 5 years ago. There are now almost a 100 pairs of Bald Eagles who have taken up permanent residence along the River. There is plenty of information available online, you should do some research before you classify the river as “a cesspool of wast and whatnot” not….

  • kendra

    it surely is i would rather try and fiind other ways to raise money for cancer awarness inseade of swimming in a cesspool of waste and whatnot..that is pretty disturbing by all means..

    • Mindy

      The Hudson is clear and all activities are allowed. While cancer is a big issue and needs funding, there ARE other issues as well. Apparently you have not been touched by the heartbreak of having someone in your family with a developmental disability. There but for the Grace of God…..

  • Mr.knowitall

    Isn’t the Hudson river a liquid poison of bacteria?

    • Mitch

      The Hudson River is not a “liquid poison of bacteria”. As stated above, it is the cleanest it has been been in 100 years. It is clean enough for all water activities including swimming and fishing. And yes, you can eat the fish…go online and do some research so you can become educated about the river.

  • Rob

    What a great kid, sounds like he has a pretty cool dad.
    Go Aaron!

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