Mass General recently celebrated the 15th annual Aspire Spring Gala, which raised funds and awareness for children, teens and adults on the autism spectrum.

MGHfCOn April 2, 2015, MassGeneral Hospital for Children celebrated the 15th annual Aspire Spring Gala, which raises funds and awareness for the Aspire program. Through tailored interventions and group social activities, this program is designed to equip children, teens and adults on the autism spectrum with the knowledge, skills and inspiration to achieve successful and fulfilling lives.

Philanthropic support enables Aspire to keep its programs affordable for families, grow and improve its existing programs and expand its popular young adult internship program.

While Boston’s Zakim Bridge shone in blue to honor National Autism Awareness Month and the work of the Aspire program, more than 800 guests enjoyed the Rafanelli Events-designed party at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston. The evening raised a record-breaking $2.1 million. Philanthropic support enables Aspire to keep its programs affordable for families, grow and improve its existing programs and expand its popular young adult internship program. Many local businesses’ active collaboration with Aspire have strengthened the internship program, which currently supports 25 interns and is poised to significantly increase that number by this time next year.

Five Aspire program participants acted as emcees and introduced the evening’s speakers. Each emcee shared with the audience their “special ingredient” that helped them achieve success at their Aspire internships. Speakers included event co-chairs David Long, chairman and chief executive officer of Liberty Mutual Insurance, and Tim Sweeney, president of Personal Insurance at Liberty Mutual, as well as Stephanie Long, Ann Marie Gross, and Peter L. Slavin, MD, president, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Highlighting Aspire Themes

Scott McLeod, PhD, Aspire’s executive director, also spoke to guests about the impact of the annual gala. “Program fees do not cover the costs of our programs and we receive no public funding. Private insurance does not cover our programs. We rely on this gala to help us fund that gap as well as to cover financial aid for participants in need. We are so very grateful to our partners, donors and event committee.”

“We understand that success at any stage—and every stage—can be transformational.”

“At Aspire we have an approach that works,” Dr. McLeod told guests gathered at the gala. “We have designed programs that serve young people with ASD as they grow. We understand that success at any stage—and every stage—can be transformational.”

Guests learned more about Aspire’s program offerings throughout the cocktail reception by visiting rooms that were designed to represent Aspire’s thematic topics including “discovery,” “connections” and “integrations.” Attendees also enjoyed a luxury key game that unlocked one-of-a-kind experiences such as a trip to the 8th Annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic in the Dominican Republic and VIP seats to an upcoming Taylor Swift concert.

The Aspire Committee includes Ann Marie and Daniel Gross; Terry and Tom Hamilton; Kim and Eric Karofsky; Stephanie and David Long; Angela Peri; Shonda and Curt Schilling; and Timothy Sweeney. Together they have worked passionately towards shining a light on how Aspire helps children, teens and adults on the autism spectrum pursue careers and lead full lives.