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Willard teen keys in on autism awareness

Jessica Cuffman • Nov 10, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Jay Cok, 17, with his teacher, David Crane, his cousin Emma Moll, and friends Natalie VanZoest and Annika Visser, will take donations at the performance to benefit the Columbus branch of “Autism Speaks.”

His interest in autism came from his two younger cousins, Nicholas and Sam, who live in Michigan.

Want to go?

•WHAT: Concert for “Autism Speaks”

•WHERE: Willard Christian Reformed Church, in Celeryville, 4163 Broadway Road, Willard

•WHEN: 4 p.m. Nov. 24

“They were the ones that first made me interested in it, just to figure out exactly what it was,” Cok said.

For his senior capstone project, he decided to research autism and how music therapy can positively affect people with the disorder. After finishing his paper, he decided he wanted to do something more.

With his piano teacher, David Crane, a composer from Mansfield with a Ph.D. in composition, he’ll be putting on the concertduring a pause between his football and basketball seasons.

As a three-sport athlete, it’s no simple feat for Cok to find time to practice on the piano for half an hour every day. He has squeezed his lessons with Crane in every Friday during his lunch period.

“I usually do it at night after I finish my homework,” he said. “It relaxes me before I go to bed.”

An aspiring surgeon, Cok plans to study biomedical engineering at college after he graduates this year from Willard High School. His nine years of piano studies won’t be forgotten — wherever he goes to school, he’d like to find a job playing music for a church close to campus.

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