Mass General Hospital for Children Celebrates 16th Annual ‘Aspire Gala’ to Support Autism Programs

Mass General Hospital for Children recently celebrated the 16th annual Aspire Spring Gala, raising more than $2.3 million to support Aspire, a highly successful, therapeutically-based program of the Lurie Center for Autism that helps children, teens and adults with high cognitive autism spectrum disorder or a related social profile develop interpersonal skills and independence.

This year’s event celebrated Aspire programs that provide individuals on the autism spectrum with the tools to form lasting and meaningful relationships.

Around 800 supporters attended the cocktail reception at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston that featured live music from the Berkshire Hills Music Academy Performance Troupe and a luxury key game offering one-of-a-kind prize packages that raised $27,250. Four Aspire program participants served as emcees and introduced speakers including event

co-chairs David Long, chairman and chief executive officer of Liberty Mutual Insurance and trustee of Massachusetts General Hospital; and Tim Sweeney, president of Personal Insurance at Liberty Mutual; as well as Scott McLeod, PhD, executive director of Aspire; Brett Mulder, PsyD, director of the Aspire Internship Program; Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Safelite Group; and Tony Aquila, founder, chairman and CEO of Solera.

The Aspire program supports more than 22 area school districts and conducts educational workshops that train more than 1,000 professionals and parents each year on meeting the complex needs of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.

According to McLeod, Aspire programs, including one that places young adults in internships, allow participants to showcase their talents while becoming independent, self-assured and prepared for real-world experiences.

“With the support and guidance of coaches and mentors, the young people in our programs gain the confidence and essential life skills that allow them to succeed at school and in the workplace,” said McLeod.

Safelite AutoGlass served as the Pioneering Sponsor of the gala with a $120,000 donation. The Leonard P. Zakim Bridge was lit blue to commemorate the event and promote autism awareness.

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