‘Outstanding Young Californian’ Award for Atif M. Moon
Outstanding Young Californian’ award winner Atif M. Moon (in wheel chair)
On Saturday April 5, 2008, Atif M. Moon was honored as one of the ten “2008 Outstanding Young Californian” by the California Junior Chambers aka Jaycees at the Universal Hilton. He is the first Muslim American to receive the honor.
The Jaycee organization was established in 1920 to provide opportunities to young men to develop personal and leadership skills through service to others. The California Jaycees adopted the Outstanding Young program in the late 1950s. Some of the previous Jaycee honorees are Steve Garvey, Arthur Ashe, Elvis Presley, Henry Ford II and Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Ford and Bill Clinton.
Atif is a cancer survivor. He was born with neuroblastoma, a cancer of the spinal cord. He was given no chance of survival. After three surgeries at the tender age of one month, he was left paralyzed from the waist down and became wheelchair bound. He went to endure three additional surgeries in later years to stabilize his spinal cord which resulted in an eighteen-inch steel rod attached to his spinal cord.
After graduating from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School with 4.0 GPA, he attended UCLA and graduated in 2007 with BS in Economics. Atif worked every summer while at UCLA. He was selected a White House intern in the fall of 2006 and spent three months in Washington DC. He also interned at Fox Sports Net (FSN) and the Los Angeles Kings in their marketing and promotion department. In 2007, he joined NBC where he is currently working and living an independent life which has been a goal of his.
Atif has excelled as a wheelchair tennis player. He began in 1991 at the age of six. It took him seven years before he won his first major tournament; however, he persisted and never gave up. Since then he has been ranked among the top junior wheelchair tennis players in the nation. He was ranked #11 in the US in 2003 and #7 in 2004. He was able to achieve these rankings without the use of a coach or a mentor. Sheer persistent and tenacity earned Atif these accolades.
Along the way, Atif has participated at the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge’s Living Independently in Los Angeles project and is now a role model by living independently in his own apartment in NOHO part of Los Angeles. Atif was a board member of MSA UCLA and also volunteered at UMMA clinic while at UCLA.
Amazingly enough, Atif does not consider himself disabled. Born with cancer and wheelchair-bound, he has never let his difficulties get in the way. He completed his education, became an international wheelchair tennis player and has his dream job. He is a true inspiration.