Young New Yorkers eager to vote as they fight through health challenges

Robert Troy teaches social studies at Mount Pleasant Blythedale Union Free School District and he is helping his students fill out their New York state voter registration forms

Student Aboubakar Konote said he believes his vote does count. This is an important year for Aboubakar. The 19-year-old is about to vote for the very first time and he already knows the issues which will sway his decision.

"Healthcare and gun violence," he said.

Aboubakar has been working hard to get himself to this point. Two years ago, he was playing basketball when he suddenly collapsed and suffered a brain hemorrhage. He had to undergo surgery to have his skull partially removed and paralysis brought him to Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla, New York, for rehabilitation.

But Aboubakar fought his way back and told FOX 5 NY he is grateful that his voice can be heard in this election. And his peer Horace McFarland Jr., 19, has a similar message. 

"I'm standing for climate change, healthcare and education," Horace said. 

He is still battling his way back from leukemia, which caused brain damage. But as he learned how to walk and talk again he said his priority was voting in 2020.

"I am standing here today and I'm proud to say I'm going to vote," Horace said, as he continues to learn the issues that will help influence his decision this November.   

For Aboubakar and Horace, the conversation about voting came about more than a year ago. It was in social studies class where Troy, their teacher, pulled up the electoral map and told them this election may be the most important year yet.

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"When this came up at the thought of registering them," Troy said, "they were excited about registering and we helped them through this process."

But as the voter registration deadline nears in New York state, Horace is encouraging other kids his age to register early. 

"Don't be late," he said, adding, "Do the best you can and make sure you find out the important information on how to vote."

Aboubakar also stressed to everyone, "Vote and try to stand out." 

These two teenagers who have overcome multiple challenges in their personal life but are now making it a point to exercise their civic duty and make a difference.

The deadline to register to vote in New York is Friday, Oct. 9. Read the FOX 5 NY voter registration guide. And learn how you can vote by mail using an absentee ballot.