Meet Kaitlin Gish

Meet Kaitlin Gish, a junior at Henry High School who started as an ACEing Autism Lexington and is now an Assistant Program Director. “It really puts all my blessings in perspective,” Kaitlin said, when asked what ACEing Autism means to her.

After hearing about ACEing Autism through her high school teammates, the then-sophomore, continued an already long and storied volunteering history. “I volunteered as a tutor for kids with special needs in seventh and eighth grade and, including through COVID via zoom meetings,” she remembered. “ACEing Autism was my way to continue working with special needs kids in high school, because I loved it so much. I even asked some kids from my middle school peer tutoring program to join ACEing Autism.” 

To understand how deep Kaitlin’s desire to help others goes, we went back to her first volunteering experience. “It started in fifth grade, when I was part of a leadership team at my elementary school that put on a “Dance Blue” mini marathon to raise funds for the pediatric oncology department at the University of Kentucky,” she fondly remembered. She’s also involved in a program at St. Joseph Hospital where she volunteers in the Intensive Care Unit. “I’ve gone back two summers now and I get to see how the systems within the South ICU and  hospital work. I see some really rough situations, which is why I truly believe in helping other people.”


As if all this isn’t impressive enough, Kaitlin is also the President of the Key Club at her high school. Key Club is a community service club that works with organizations like the Ronald Mcdonald House:  “We cook meals for the guests at the Ronald McDonald House twice a month and host other events for local kids and schools in the district.” She somehow also finds time to be the Fundraising Chair for Dance Blue at her high school, continuing the volunteer work she started in elementary school. Kaitlin will be the overall Chair of her high school’s student-run Dance Blue Committee next year. “Growing up, I’ve always looked for opportunities to volunteer. I know how blessed I am, so I always want to give back.  Once you start volunteering, it’s like you get hooked and just want to do more,” she laughed. 


Now, dedicating a lot of her time to ACEing Autism, she has seen what the program offers to the participants, and how much it gives back to the volunteers as well. “It makes my day. The parents tell me how much the athletes look forward to ACEing Autism throughout the week, which has made me realize how much that hour means to the entire family.” Kaitlin has truly enjoyed seeing kids be happy, seeing them improve on and off the court, and knowing she had a part in it. As a bonus, she has seen her own communication skills improve. “You learn to communicate in a very different way and to enforce what you’ve said. It has helped me reevaluate past situations where I felt misunderstood, made me much more aware of how I communicate, and taught me to be more direct.” 

Due in part to ACEing Autism, Kaitlin wants to major in biomedical engineering in college. She wants to improve people’s lives and is excited to continue her work with the athletes.  “Even in college, I will look to continue ACEing Autism or something similar,” she said smiling ear to ear. “At heart, we’re all kids. It’s a great program that allows everyone to work together and have fun!”

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