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Merrick Teen With Incurable Disease Wins Prestigious Sports Award

Gillian Cohen won the USTA Eastern’s Service to People with Disabilities Award.

Gillian Cohen of Merrick recently won the USTA Eastern’s Service to People with Disabilities Award, a prestigious tennis honor, in recognition of her dedication and perseverance. 

Cohen, a junior at Calhoun High School, said that she was surprised that she was chosen to receive the award, but that she is happy that she can show others that nothing is impossible.  

"I have disabilities and I can still play a sport and not let my disabilities get in the way of just being normal," she said.

Cohen, a lover of tennis since she was a small child, was born with an  incurable liver disease. She received a life-saving liver transplant when she was 7-years-old and has faced numerous surgeries over the years. 

She said that tennis has had a positive impact on her life and has given her confidence.

Cohen's determination caused her to try out and join her school's junior varsity team last year. 

“That was very fun for me,” she said. "I wanted to at least try to make the team.”

The experience helped her find her place as well as develop new friendships.

“I loved it," she said. "I don’t care about whether I’m on varsity or JV. I don’t care, I’m just playing tennis." 

Cohen will be honored for her achievements at the Renaissance Westchester Hotel in White Plains, NY on Jan. 25. 

“I’m very thankful to be honored and by accepting this award I’m sending the message out there that you can be different," she said. "Tennis is a sport that everyone can play." 


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