Remembering Shirael Pollack

It is with broken hearts that we say goodbye to our board member Shirael Pollack, who passed away Friday, September 20, 2019 at age 39 after a long and hard-fought two-year battle with stomach cancer. She continued to live to the fullest during her battle and fought with positivity, dignity, grace, and tenacity. She was an example for all of us, before, and especially after, her diagnosis.

During her time with NAA, she was an enthusiastic and active board member fighting for our kiddos. As well, she worked with so many other organizations and was a successful entrepreneur and small business leader. She leaves behind her husband Dylan, their two beautiful daughters, Gabby and Dahlia, her parents and siblings, and many, many family and friends.

Shirael was a pediatric physical therapist, and creator and owner of Watch Me Grow Sensory Gym, a speech-language, occupational and physical therapy center in Manhattan, New York. She was devoted to helping children with a wide variety of physical and developmental challenges. Shirael received her Masters Degree in Physical Therapy from Long Island University in 2002. After years of practice as a pediatric physical therapist in both schools and home-based settings, Shirael created Watch Me Grow in January 2007 to realize her personal vision of what a sensory gym should be – a place where therapy was not just effective, but also fun for children to receive. For her outstanding work, Shirael was recognized as an “Everyday Hero” on WPIX’s “Dr. Steve” show and Watch Me Grow was certified as a Women Owned Business Enterprise by the New York State Department of Economic Development.

In continuing with her mission to provide resources to families affected by autism, Shirael became involved with the National Autism Association NY Metro Chapter in 2010 and was the Chair of its Fundraising Committee. She believed that the more parents know, the better advocates they become for their children. She was particularly proud of the NAA’s annual sensory summer experience for children on the autism spectrum, which was held in collaboration with Watch Me Grow.

Shirael was also a very proud resident of Hoboken, NJ and was the President and Co-Founder of Hoboken Public Education Foundation. She led their fundraising efforts and advocated tirelessly for Hoboken schools. As Hoboken’s mayor, Ravi Bhalla, wrote, “Through her tireless dedication, Shirael was an example to us all of what true public service looks like.”

Following her diagnosis, Shirael became an active fundraiser and advocate for gastric cancer research.

Shirael was born in Ashkelon, Israel and grew up in Rockland County, NY. Shirael’s remarkable intelligence, spirit, grace, vivaciousness, kindness, drive and sense of humor were most memorable. She made our world a much better place and we were all so lucky to have her in our lives. Her example and achievements live on.