A Model with Autism

Notice the nice conclusion his 17-yr-old brother draws from this.


Senior portrait for Mundelein High grad leads to modeling gig
by Kristina Hauptmann

All Cole Emory wanted for his 18th birthday last August was a tuxedo he could wear in his senior portrait. An unusual request, perhaps, but one his mother, Karen, didn’t refuse.

It was lucky for Cole that she didn’t.

Next week, the Mundelein High School graduate is being flown to San Francisco to shoot a print ad for the Men’s Wearhouse.

Karen was so pleased with the tuxedo and his senior photographs, she sent a letter to Men’s Wearhouse CEO George Zimmer last winter suggesting the company could use Cole in its ads.

Cole is autistic, but Karen did not think that would affect his ability to model because he is very high-functioning and can drive.

“When I saw the photograph, I thought, maybe if this something that comes easy for him, let’s look into it.” she said.

Karen said she is always trying to be resourceful and look for possible careers for Cole, so sending a letter to Zimmer was “not such a stretch.”

“When you have a child with a disability, you learn to not be afraid to do things,” Karen said.

Zimmer was interested. Karen then talked with Men’s Wearhouse vice presidents, who decided to fly Cole and her to San Francisco July 21 for six days to shoot a print ad. Cole’s brother and father are also going to San Francisco.

Cole feels grateful for what his mom did for him, and is looking forward to his time in San Francisco.

“I feel great. I feel honored,” he said. “I hope I do very great for Men’s Wearhouse.”

The Emorys will meet Zimmer July 22 before going to the photo shoot. Men’s Wearhouse is paying for their hotel, tickets to see musical “Wicked,” admission to Alcatraz and dinner on Fisherman’s Wharf.

“I was dumbfounded,” Karen said. “It’s just so amazing, above and beyond my wildest dreams.”

The family has been pleasantly surprised with the kindness and consideration the Men’s Wearhouse has shown them – from asking what Cole’s interests are to if they prefer seafood or Italian for dinner – the company has thought of everything, Karen said.

“To one of the guys I said, ‘Why are you being so nice to us?’ He said, ‘I don’t know,'” she said.

“It’s a fairy tale, I think.”

Cole’s brother, Will, 17, said this experience comes down to one idea.

“You can do something out of the blue, and it can skyrocket out of nowhere, so don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things,” Will said.

Cole said he could see himself working for a department store like Macy’s sometime in the future. And if modeling does not work out, he is taking special education job training in Libertyville that can prepare him for the work force.

Karen said other families with disabled children should continue pursuing careers and trying new things.

“Hang in there; keep plugging. You’ve got nothing to lose,” Karen said.


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