“It may be a tough time for the Muslim ummah (community) in the US right now, but nothing should stop you from achieving your goals.” These words ring as true now as they did when spoken in 2009 by Atif Moon, then recipient of the Ten Outstanding Youth of America (TOYA) award by the United States Junior Chamber. TOYA is a distinguished award that has amongst its alumni notables such as John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford and Christopher Reeve.
Moon was born with Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the spinal cord. He underwent a series of surgeries and despite being confined to a wheelchair accomplished more than most dream of. At the tender age of five Moon was already competing in wheelchair tennis tournaments. Today, he is a member of The West Coast Wheelchair Tennis Association. He took part in a 5k-wheelchair race and won his first tennis tourney in 1998. Since then, he has been a nationally ranked player with the WCWTA.
Moon graduated from UCLA where he studied Business Economics. Moon also had the honor of serving as a White House intern in 2006, where he felt the need to open doors for young Muslims to get involved in civic life. This inspiration led to Atif Moon co-founding the Center for Global Understanding (CFGU), a non-advocacy, non-religious organization to encourage the Muslim American youth to participate in civic engagement. According to CFGU’s website:
Moon’s focus has been to provide scholarships for college-level students to intern in Washington, D.C., to understand and learn about America’s institutions of democracy. With the ultimate goal of providing a way to bring people together and help Muslim Americans get engaged in public policy, poverty, health, and education issues, Moon feels that Muslim Americans should play a significant role to make this world a better place.
Today, Atif Moon manages his work with CFGU while also working in the sports and entertainment profession. Moon’s example is an inspiration to all those who have or are suffering from a handicap and faced adversity in their lives, minorities and all youth. Rather than thinking about his own condition, he focused on how to improve the condition of the world around him. Moon’s example shines as a beacon of hope for young people never to give up on your dreams and to face life head-on. His story is one of overcoming adversity, struggle, and courage – all qualities of a hero and role-model.
If you are interested in applying to the Center for Global Understanding, please visit the following link: http://centerforglobalunderstanding.org/how_to_apply.php