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Aaron Perl, 11, Inspired By Friend's Uncle To Swim Hudson River And Raise Money For Charity

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- A young athlete about to start sixth grade is also set to take a one-mile swim in the Hudson River as a special gift to his friend.

Aaron Perl is just 11 years old and he's swimming as a Bat Mitzvah gift for his friend, Ally Witt, and to make a big difference for others.

"Life is about doing things for other people," Aaron said.

The friends have been inspired by Ally's uncle, Jeff, who is mentally disabled.

"He's so brave, he's really friendly and he's a fabulous uncle," Ally said.

For her Mitzvah project, Ally raised $6,000 for the Association For The Help of Retarded Citizens, the organization that has helped her uncle and so many others.

A Mitzvah project is a charitable service project for many young people in the Jewish community. Ally and Aaron said they plan to keep working on this one every year.

"All the money is going to a respite home, which is where disabled people can live if they're too old to live with their parents," Ally said.

And now Aaron is continuing the fundraising with his charity swim called "Mitzvah on the Hudson."

"It's good that I can do this since I've gone through stuff, harder stuff, I know how it is," Aaron said.

That harder stuff was the surgery and excruciatingly painful process of lengthening his leg after being born with a shortened femur. At 8 years old, Aaron and his father started competing in triathlons. He has since completed 13 of them.

But it is the swim he's training for now and that he's hoping will inspire others to do something.

"It doesn't matter what you do. It doesn't matter if you raise 10 bucks or a 1,000 bucks, it's still making a difference," Aaron said.

Aaron plans to hit the Hudson at 1 p.m. this Sunday and is hoping a lot of kids will come and cheer him on, and be inspired to start their own charity projects.  It will start at 99th Street and will end at the 79th Boat Basin.

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