April is Autism Awareness Month, a worldwide opportunity to encourage autism awareness and draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.
In Boston, the month kicks off with MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Aspire Spring Gala on Thursday, April 5. The 18th annual event hopes to raise more than $2 million to support Aspire, a highly successful, therapeutically-based program of the Lurie Center for Autism.
This year’s theme, “Light Up! Inspiring Knowledge + Illuminating Confidence,” sheds light on living with autism. Longtime partner Rafanelli Events will bring the theme to life with a lightbulb lounge, where guests will experience “a-ha moments” about life on the autism spectrum through an interactive lighting installation.
Around 800 guests are expected to attend April’s cocktail reception at Four Seasons Hotel Boston. Guests will enjoy dinner-by-the-bite and a luxury key game offering one-of-a-kind prize packages that include tickets to see Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran at Gillette Stadium and a VIP experience at the 2018 MLB All-Star game. Tickets are $500 and available at www.aspiregala.com.
Aspire helps children, teens and adults with high cognitive autism spectrum disorder or a related social profile develop the skills necessary to live full, independent lives. Programs include a summer camp for children, an excursions and explorations group for teens and a young adult internship program. Aspire also consults area schools and conducts professional development workshops that train professionals and parents on meeting the complex needs of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.
The 2018 Aspire Spring Gala Committee includes Stephanie and David Long, Timothy Sweeney, Terry and Tom Hamilton, Ann Marie and Daniel Gross and Kim and Eric Karofsky. Together, this passionate group has worked towards shining a light on how Aspire helps young people on the autism spectrum.
Scott McLeod, PhD, executive director of Aspire, will address the guests alongside three participants from the Aspire program.
“Our sponsors support the program, speak out and show up,” McLeod said. “They make it possible for me to say that no Aspire applicant is turned away because of a family’s inability to pay. They are making it possible for children, teens and adults on the spectrum to pursue careers and lead full lives.”
Aspirational Sponsors of this year’s gala include Copart, ExamWorks, Liberty Mutual Insurance and Safelite AutoGlass, with each company donating $150,000.
To be a part of Aspire this year, visit www.aspiregala.org for more information and tickets.