Around 900 people came together for the MassGeneral Hospital for Children Aspire Spring Gala at the Four Seasons and raised more than $2.6 million for autism research and care. The 19th annual event supported Aspire, the highly successful, therapeutically-based program of the Lurie Center for Autism based in Lexington, Mass. Aspire helps children, teens and adults with high cognitive autism spectrum disorder and related profiles develop the skills necessary to be successful in their communities and workplaces.
Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of Massachusetts General Hospital; Scott McLeod, PhD, executive director of Aspire; Andrew Harris, Aspire program manager; the 2019 Aspire Spring Gala Committee of Stephanie and David Long, Tim Sweeney, Ann Marie and Daniel Gross, and Kim and Eric Karofsky (Terry and Tom Hamilton could not make it due to Aerosmith’s Las Vegas schedule); Aspire program participants and their families; and corporations from all over the country were in attendance to celebrate the great success of the Aspire program.
“As Aspire continues to grow, we are engaging more and more clients with our new programing while broadening our reach in educating our communities about living and working with people on the autism spectrum,” said Scott McLeod, PhD, executive director of Aspire, as he addressed guests. “Aspire is also making great strides with adult members of the autism community. Thanks to your generosity, we’ve been able to create specialized programs for this older population, and we’re now working with more adults than before, helping them make changes to become successful and remain successful.”
Throughout the Four Seasons space, event designer Rafanelli Events showcased this year’s theme, “People Who Matter,” through life-size illuminated portraits of Aspire participants, mentors and parents, and a poignant video of a collection of interviews revealing the impact an individual can make. Out-of-this-world food stations were sprinkled throughout the rooms, along with eight luxury boxes where guests tried their luck with their key to open access to memorable prize packages, such as a Broadway experience and a golf getaway to the Jack Nicklaus-founded Muirfield Village course.
In honor of Aspire and autism awareness, Boston’s beautiful Zakim Bridge was lit up in blue.