TORONTO – At age four, Alex Buehlow was diagnosed developed autism and was unable to communicate. But he also developed a love for swimming. Now, he wants to swim across Lake Ontario.
Joni Maerten-Sanders, Buehlow’s swim coach, noticed his potential when he was 10-years-old.
“He started swimming with my group when he was nine; he had shown a lot of talent at that time and we moved him up with some of the older kids. He’s just thrived on swimming,” Maerten-Sanders said.
In 2011, Alex won a gold medal in the 200-metre individual medley event at the Special Olympics World Championships in Athens, Greece.
“It was nice to win gold knowing all the hard work paid off,” said Alex.
Now 18-years-old, Alex wants to break two records by swimming across Lake Ontario. He wants to break the 13 hours and 49 minutes record and become the youngest person to finish the swim. On August 12, Alex and his team, including his autistic sister, will start from Niagara-On-The-Lake and finish at Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto.
“He’s gonna break the youngest record for sure” Marten-Sanders said.
Buehlow is attempting the swim to raise $100,000 and awareness in support of his favourite charity “ThreeToBe.” An organization which supports research, funds and education for autism, cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.
Jared Florence, and his wife Dana founded the ThreeToBe organization when their triplets, born three months early, were diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
“It’s an inspiration,” Florence said. “He’s very much like our kids. He inspires you to want to make a difference and it reminds you that there’s people that really care.”
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