SOMERSET HILLS NJ Somerset Hills YMCA invites the community to its 9th annual swim fundraiser on Sunday, October 8, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in support of the Saturdays in Motion Program (SIM). Saturdays in Motion, a free, recreational program for children on the autistic spectrum, pairs the children with local teen volunteers who guide them in enriching activities. The fundraiser contributes to the Y’s ability to meet community needs with financial assistance and mission-based programs like SIM.

The fundraiser will be held at Somerset Hills YMCA, a branch of Somerset County YMCA. This event is open to the community, with a suggested minimum donation of $25. The pool will be available for both racing and casual swimming, and activities will include a cannonball contest and a penny toss, among others. As in years past, college swimmers and former SIM volunteers from Columbia University, Fordham University and New York University, new this year, will be at the event to offer pointers to younger swimmers.

Saturdays in Motion sessions are held at Somerset Hills YMCA twice monthly, from October through April. Each session of SIM includes one hour in the gym, where the children and volunteers participate in activities such as basketball and gymnastics. A second hour is spent in the pool, where the participants and volunteers swim, ride waterslides and enjoy other fun activities. In many instances, this interaction is one of the few times apart from school where these children connect with non-family members in a safe and encouraging environment.

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As a charitable organization, the Y is committed to nurturing the potential of all children to learn, grow and thrive. Saturdays in Motion is one of the many programs the Y offers to those with special needs in an effort to create a meaningful impact on the lives of individuals and their families. Saturdays in Motion is in its 26th year at Somerset Hills YMCA. “Saturdays in Motion is the longest running, non-public recreational program for children with autism and their families in the country,” said David M. Carcieri, president and CEO of Somerset County YMCA. “Its continued success is a testament to the commitment of our teenage volunteers. We are very proud to support children with special needs and their families in this way.”

Basking Ridge resident Art Raynes, who founded the program, believes that the unrestricted format of the activities appeals to the participants. “The structure is what makes the program work. The kids know that they will swim and play games, but what and how they do it is up to them and their volunteer partners. I think it helps build their confidence and independence. And of course, it’s just fun.”

This year’s fundraiser is chaired by four experienced SIM volunteers: Max Alexy -  Delbarton High School, Brynn McKeon – Ridge High School, Rajiv Mirchandani – Ridge High School, and Lukas Scheidl – Mendham High School. All four chairs are juniors and have been volunteering with SIM for the past five years.

For questions about the October 8 SIM fundraiser, please contact Stephanie Jasinski at sjasinski@somersetcountyymca.org.

For more information about Saturdays in Motion and Somerset County YMCA, visit www.somersetcountyymca.org.