Rehana Ashraf and her partners-in-planning Kate Evans and Anne Greene, are focused on getting young Bostonians involved in the Parkinson’s cause. In fact, in part to honor their own loved ones affected by the disease, next month they are hosting their fourth annual Celebrate Spring Boston to benefit PDF on Friday, April 24, building on previous years’ successes. The festive evening features cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and dancing.
Over the past few years, the women have used PDF’s New York event of the same name as a blueprint for success, raising more than $130,000. In the interview below, find out why the Parkinson’s cause is so important to Rehana and how her group is getting their generation involved in Parkinson’s philanthropy.
Q. Can you tell us about your personal connection to Parkinson’s? Why is it important to you to be a part of PDF’s mission to end PD?
A. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when I was young, at the peak of his career as a surgeon. He lived with the disease for over 20 years before he died six years ago. I am moved to be a part of the PDF’s mission to end PD because I don’t want anyone else to have to watch their hero walk away from their career or lose their independence because of this disease. I want to do my part to help fund the research and the support needed to give families like mine hope and happiness.
Q. For the past three years, you have helped establish the Celebrate Spring event in Boston, using the New York event as a blueprint for success. Why are you passionate about bringing young professionals into PDF’s fight against Parkinson’s?
A. I love this event and every year I am touched by all the help we get from our friends and peers in running an amazing night to raise a lot of money. That said, I am driven to make every year the best it can be in the hopes that it will be the last year we need to search for a cure. The more money we can raise, the more Parkinson’s research we can fund to bring us closer to changing this event from an annual fundraiser to a celebration of success.
Q. How have your family, friends and local community of young professionals responded?
A. My co-chairs and I have been blown away by the support we’ve received from family, coworkers, friends and acquaintances in making Celebrate Spring Boston a success. Everyone does what they can to help with ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and finding auction items. Every year it becomes more and more of a well-oiled machine. We are so grateful to have their support and always have a wonderful time with them celebrating at the event!
Q. Since 2013, the event has raised $130,000 for research and welcomed over 175 guests annually, including New England Patriots alumni! What makes the events so successful?
A. Over the years we have a great mix of returning committee members and new arrivals and everyone brings new and different life to the party. We have a wonderful group that we meet with weekly for happy hours and meetings, so everyone gets to know each other and we build excitement to the event. We all love a good time while supporting PDF!
Q. Do you have any tips for other young professionals who would like to make a difference on behalf of their loved ones with Parkinson’s?
A. PDF has been incredibly helpful and supportive in getting this event off the ground – so if you think you have enough people to reach critical mass, just reach out and offer to help! It’s a lot of work and energy for a few months, but it’s been incredibly rewarding and I wouldn’t change a thing. Whether you are chairing the event, or working on the committee, every little bit helps.
Ms. Ashraf, who leads a successful business career in Boston, MA, co-founded Celebrate Spring Boston in 2013.
Do you live near Boston, MA? Join us at Celebrate Spring Boston. Tickets are availble on PDF’s website here.