Josh Cohen raises money with car wash and Zumbathon 
during National Stuttering Awareness Week

Josh Cohen, a remarkable young man from Cherry Hill, N.J., has stuttered for nearly his entire life. He will be 13 soon and celebrating his Bar Mitzvah in October. This passage requires he complete a personally meaningful project of community benefit.

“Because I have stuttered my whole life, I’ve decided to do something related to stuttering,” Josh told us in his proposal to sponsor two fund-raising events and several school classroom presentations. “Being a stutterer can be very hard.”

During National Stuttering Awareness Week last May, Josh, with a great deal of enthusiastic support from family, friends, and community, hosted a car wash. Jerry Barton, owner of Marlton Classic Car Wash & Drive Thru Express Lube, donated his facility for the day, along with all the proceeds from each car wash and oil change. Josh’s speech teacher at Rosa Middle School, Sarina Hoell, passed out SFA brochures and answered questions. The kids sold pretzels and drinks donated by local grocers and vendors. All in all, nearly $900 was donated.

In June, the Zumbathon fund-raiser was a successful masterpiece of organization. Friends Debra Faye and Joy Ditkoff ran registration and sold T-shirts. Cherry Hill Mayor, Bernie Platt, offered the use of the Township Community Center for the event. Josh’s mom, and eight other instructors from middle and south New Jersey and Pennsylvania, inspired more than 60 energetic participants! Josh’s sister secured the sponsorship of owner Aisha McKenzie’s Beyond Hair Salon & Spa with gift certificates for all supporters. The Cherry Hill Sun covered the event, helping further the cause of public awareness. Once again, local restaurants and businesses including Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s, Wine Warehouse, and Mr. Lou Ventresca, donated water, snacks and gift certificates. The Zumbathon raised nearly $900 also!

Most impressive is that Josh chose to do his mitzvah project about something so personal. His recognition of the significance of raising public awareness, along with public education and community service regarding stuttering, is commendable. “It is even more so,” said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation, “considering that the projects’ organization and execution required so much interaction between Josh and his community. That can be daunting for a person who stutters.”

Josh really put himself out there for a cause important to him. His mom, Wendi Cohen, said, “I hope, through our fund raising efforts and Joshua’s classroom education presentations, we have been able to make a difference in the lives of those who stutter.”

The Foundation has been proud to support Josh’s effort, and honored to have been chosen to partner with him on his special project. We plan to have an update after his Bar Mitzvah.

-From the Fall 2010 Newsletter