Sanjay Shah and his wife Usha have created the unique, interactive music experience known as Autism Rocks! designed to change the perceptions of people with autism and raise money for awareness as well as research for autism. Their son, Nikhil, is on the autism spectrum, a condition that involves sensitivity to high-sensory activity and differences in communication with others. The fun-filled event, which featured American rappers Tyga and Flo Rida, also offered laser tag, a petting zoo, horse rides, and inflatable rides, of many other exciting things to do.
This year’s Autism Rocks is hardly the beginning of Sanjay Shah’s battle for autism, though his venture into concerts is somewhat new; the Dubai-based hedge fund manager received an unexpected visit from Snoop Dogg inspired him to get into the business of putting on concerts, but it wasn’t immediately that he realized he could continue his fight for autism. After already pouring money into the Autism Research Centre and the Autism Research Trust, using the concerts to raise more money just made sense. Now he has worked with many famous musicians, even Lenny Kravitz and the late Prince, whom he described as “very enigmatic”.
Shah is no stranger to the money business, either, having been a long-time banker and when he found himself unemployed in 2008, set up his own investment management and trading business. In a position himself to make donations, he was able to set up this successful charitable venture. His company, Solo Capital now employs over one hundred financial experts and made him a multi-millionaire. Supporting research facilities and making a difference through donations is a long-time practice of Shah, who was a dedicated donator to Plan International sponsoring kids in India until his son’s autism diagnosis narrowed his focus.
The Autism Research Centre has made some recent breaking strides in where autism is housed in the brain based on gender, one of the many discoveries made possible from donations like Shah’s. They are cutting-edge in the field of finding intervention strategies and coping methods. Sanjay Shah’s son benefits greatly from many of these things, and he hopes future generations will benefit from the prevention research he is funding. He has come a long way for autism, from simply buying and donating a few minibuses to the research center to staging concerts with the biggest names in music, and will certainly continue the fight.
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