Where it all started

Daniel Lebo

Website – https://www.daniellebo.com/

In the summer of 2018 two New Yorkers, myself and a colleague of mine, came together to create a place for their beloved city to get the latest information on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Since then the two of us, both technologists with experience in marketing and communications, grew in separate directions. One into the depths of the FinTech world, while I continued my journey into the ever evolving field of Information Technology. While utilizing a combination of skills gained in the advertising and technology worlds, I continued to develop Healthy New Yorker and focused my efforts on building a community of change makers across the state of New York. But this mission is not by any means a one man operation. In the fall of 2019, a dear friend of mine, Sarah Allende, decided to join the fight and became an active member of Healthy New Yorker. It was Sarah’s idea to lend a helping hand to organizations such as Lighthouse Guild, Autism Speaks, and Cayuga Centers during the holiday season. Then in January of 2020, we set our sights on HeartShare Human Services of New York. After several meetings, it was decided that we would host a fundraiser for HeartShare and The HeartShare School. In January we began the planning process and set the date of the event for March 7, 2020. This brings us to Saturday March 7, 2020, the event was scheduled for 6 pm at a venue in Tribeca. At around 1 pm that afternoon, as I was getting ready to leave the house, the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, declared a state of emergency due to the growing threat of COVID-19. Obviously, we questioned whether we should reschedule, but decided to move forward as planned as things were already in motion. Needless to say, the turnout for our grand event was less than hoped for. As the evening came to a close, and a small group of us sat there wondering what dangers lie ahead for the city and our loved ones, I realized that the months of time, money, and sweat that we invested into this fundraiser was not in vain. You see, we we’re busy planning an event, we failed to realize that in doing so, we laid the foundation for a nonprofit.

The Healthy New Yorker is not an image nor a logo, it is our flag. A symbol that represents a collective of professionals from the tech, health, nonprofit, social service, public health, and education sectors. As well as friends, family, and community based organizations that are doing what is necessary to have a lasting positive impact on the people of New York.

email: daniel@healthynewyorker.com

Aytakin Asgarova

After several conversations regarding how we may join forces to create an even bigger impact on the City of New York, Aytakin agreed to come along for the ride and join my mission of creating an organization that will develop the type of change that we would like to see in our community. I am truly honored to call such an amazing human being my friend and now fellow collaborator.

Aytakin started her journey in Europe in her home country, The Republic of Azerbaijan. At an early age she excelled in her studies and went on to receive her Medical Degree from Azerbaijan Medical University. Eventually she would move to the states where she attended Ramapo College of New Jersey and earned her Master’s Degree in Sustainability Studies. Aytakin has worked closely with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and is a member of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. An extremely intelligent woman with a heart of gold, she has given her time and volunteered with many organizations including Y-Peer Youth Network and Womenists, a global network of professional woman and entrepreneurs. A born Leader, Entrepreneur, Communicator, Teacher, Community Leader, and Philanthropist. Aytakin has been a Healthy New Yorker long before we met, only now…it’s official.

email: aytakin@healthynewyorker.com

Sara Allende

My name is Sara.   I am your typical New Yorker; worked through high school and college, consistently kept good grades, had great friends and family support.  I was lucky.  The next step as I started my career as a Career Counselor was to get married and start a family.  I had a beautiful wedding and exactly 1 year later, I was pregnant with a baby boy.  I had heard so much on the news about how autism was on the rise primarily in boys and I started to get a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I promptly went to Cornell’s genetics lab for testing and my husband and I tested negative to any gene mutations.
My son Aaron was born 1 month early on October 15th 2009.  From day 1 I always had an instinct that something was not right with him.  He screamed for hours on end, constantly vomiting, etc…I would go to the pediatrician every week with tears in my eyes from sleep deprivation.  I remember the words exactly,  “Get a grip sweetheart, this is how boys are”.  I learned to live with the screaming, buying every gadget on the market, home remedies, chamomile tea, the list went on and on.  My family was consistently upset, trying to ” solve the problem”.  There was constant chaos in my house.  Aaron did not watch TV, play with toys and had poor eye contact.  The pediatricians insisted he was fine.
One day when Aaron was 18 months old, I was watching Dr. Oz.  There was a pediatrician speaking about the gut brain connection and its relation to autism.  I felt like he was describing Aaron.  I immediately made an appointment and my world changed. As soon as Dr.  Gabriel saw Aaron, he said he had a milk allergy and to switch him to almond/coconut milk.  He had red patches around his eyes and I cleared my house of all dairy and for the first time, Aaron slept through the night.  No more vomiting, screaming and sleepless nights.
The next step was to get Aaron evaluated, We did heavy metal testing, gut bacteria testing, a Speech exam, Occupational Therapy and Applied Behavior Analysis.  He was given therapy everyday by NY State.  Aaron was put on a heavy chelation regimen to clear his body of all toxins and help to get his brain work properly and to decrease inflammation.  Of course this all came at a high price since Medical Insurance does not cover alternative treatments in autism.  I did not know if this would work  But  I had to try something for my son and for myself.
After years of Vitamin B 12 shots, activated charcoal ( before it became a trend), magnesium, folate, and many other interventions, Aaron started to change.  I changed too.  I had to be his advocate.  Otherwise no one was going to help me.  I had to push for answers and guidance in a complicated system.  
Today, Aaron is in 5th grade, has an average IQ, social, independent and the most behaved lovely young man.  I want to help all the other struggling parents out there that do not where to turn and may have questions or concerns.  I am not a doctor but learned to navigate the free resources in NYS’s Department of Education program, Medicaid, IEP rights as a parent and advocate centers for children with Autism. Aaron is now a big brother to my daughter Bella ( which does not have autism ).  I continue to be a Healthy New Yorker, mind, body and soul.

email: sarah@healthynewyorker.com