Meet Ken Kubisch, a 78-year-old volunteer from our Redding, CA program. A soft-spoken former civil engineer, Ken has been involved in sports his whole life. “Because of my experience with youth sports, especially with baseball, it helps me see when volunteers might need help when they teach,” Ken explained. Back when his children were growing up and as a new Redding resident who was working for Caltrans as a Highway Engineer, he realized that Redding wasn’t part of the USA Official Little League Baseball organization so he became a leader with others in a Local ‘Redding Youth Baseball League'”, the former U.S. Navy Seabees recalled. They utilized four different baseball fields throughout Redding and his wife became the manager for the four snack bars.
Between his experience as a wrestler (he was ranked second in the state in high school), as a softball player on a navy team, and running adult volleyball teams in the Monterey and Redding Recreation area for 23 years, running a 3 on 3 half court basketball league as a volunteer for the Redding Recreation Dept. and winning over 138 gold, silver and bronze medals in the senior Olympics, his love of sport and serving his community have never wavered. Because of that, when Tony Chang talked to him about ACEing Autism, he wanted to volunteer right away.
“It makes me feel proud to be with amazing volunteers who work their tail off every clinic,” Ken said about his experience. Another reason Ken’ story is inspiring is because of what he does every day and that is to take care of his wife (80 years old) who has now been diagnosed with severe dementia.
“We go grocery shopping together, I cook (I’m not a good cook and my wife is Italian, so I was spoiled with her cooking) but one of my sons lives nearby so he helps.”
He then went on to explain that there are a lot of resemblances in his attitude with his wife and the children he coaches with ACEing Autism. “The verbiage you use, being really encouraging, having patience, or speaking in a quiet voice are all things I can use in both situations,” Ken continued. “You want to be positive with people in both instances and you want to look at the bright side.”
In addition to bringing his experience as a coach and a caretaker, Ken has enjoyed making new connections and learning new ways to be the best caretaker and coach possible. “Being a volunteer with ACEing Autism has definitely given me even more tools to care for my wife,” the ever-energetic grandfather expressed. “The videos we get before the session, the in-person training, and relationships we build with the parents all help me on and off the court.”
As our interview nears the end, we also talk about how ACEing Autism has reunited him with an old friend of his son’s. “One of the participant’s dads was one of my son’s best friends,” he cheerfully answered. “My oldest son did sports with him, we knew the whole family, and had picnics together, but we hadn’t seen him in 25 years. I tried to make a point to be with his daughter to help her out.”
Before we ended the call, we asked Ken if he wanted to share anything else about his experience with ACEing Autism and he was pleased to say that “when I brought my wife there a couple of times, she seemed to enjoy it very much. It allowed her to be out and meet new people which was another great part of ACEing Autism.”
We want to thank Ken for his dedication, care, and service to his community! We look forward to seeing him again on the courts.