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One Tough Cookie

In light of October being National Disability Mentoring Month, perhaps eighteen year old Alex Nappa would be willing to teach us a few pointers in starting your own business. The young entrepeneur started his own cookie business and lives with his mother in DeWitt. Born with a neuro-muscular disorder that has left him wheel chair bound, upon first appearance one may be skeptical as to Alex's abilities. However, he's got some tricks up his sleeve that make communicating and operating his business a lot easier.

His wheelchair is equipped with a device that is connected to his Kitchen-Aid mixer in which he mixes his recipes. He uses switches to turn the mixer on and off. His wheelchair is also equipped with switches that allow him to communicate "yes" or "no".

"He understands what is being said," mother Diane Nappa explained. His current customers are the Syracuse Food Co-Op and Jamesville-DeWitt High School where he will sell his cookies for fifty cents each. His mother, Diane Nappa, is his business manager. "He picked out the recipes himself," she explained. Alex, who cannot speak, discovered the idea of baking cookies with the help of a friend, Sandy Hessler, who communicates well with Alex. "His first choice was to be king," Mrs. Nappa said. "We told him he already was."

Hessler went to local bakeries in the area to see if anyone would be interested in selling his products. Syracuse Food Co-Op was his first account. Alex's five different cookie varieties are a raspberry chocolate bar, a mint chocolate brownie, a toffee oatmeal bar, a white chocolate blonde brownie and his mom's favorite, the pecan caramel brownie. These are all baked in the kitchen at Alex's house, which USDA approved for his business.

Alex didn't indicate that he wanted to make a lot of money from his business. However, the home-schooled teen is planning to spend some profits on CDs as he enjoys listening to a variety of music. When his mom asks him if the musician, Fergie, is a favorite, Alex's smile gave him away.

Alex's cookies will be available for purchase at Jamesville DeWitt High School and at the Syracuse Food Co-op beginning the week of Oct.24.

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