December 28, 2021: A Very Happy Birthday to Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, and We Would Imagine the Greatest Wish for the Princess on Her Birthday Would Be to See a World Without Alzheimer’s

Publisher/Editor SimergphotosSimerg and Barakah

Simerg will be publishing a multi-part series on Alzheimer’s in 2022, and we plan to launch the series early in the New Year with a special profile on Princess Yasmin and her involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association since 1981. Alzheimer’s contributed to her mother Ms. Rita Hayworth’s death at the age of 67 in 1987. The Association has raised tens of millions of dollars through the annual Rita Hayworth Galas that have been held in Chicago and New York over the past 35 years.

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, daughter of Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth, and younger sister of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, and Prince Amyn Mohamed, at Alzheimer’s fundraiser in New York in December 1984. Photo Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Bernard Gotfryd.

Today, December 28, 2021, is a very special day in the life of the Princess as she celebrates her 72nd birthday. We mark her birthday with a brief tribute to the Princess on our sister website Barakah that includes a selection of historical photographs of the Princess as well as a link to an interview the she gave to Canada’s National Newspaper, “The Globe and Mail” in which she talks about Alzheimer’s.

On Sunday December 26, my morning twilight visit to the Pickering Waterfront on Lake Ontario, was one of the most amazing I have ever had in my life. The sky took on different tones every few minutes — I did not see the rising of the sun because of the cloud cover in the horizon, but watched in awe the sun’s impact on the sky and clouds above it. During those moments of joy, hope and bewilderment, there was only one person that came into my thoughts as I clicked on my camera more than a 100 times during the hour I spent at the Waterfront — Princess Yasmin.

Pickering water front trail twilight, Malik Merchant simerg Princess Yasmin birthday
Lake Ontario, Pickering Waterfront Park, 7:44 am five minutes before sunrise on December 26, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg
Pickering water front trail twilight, Malik Merchant simerg Princess Yasmin birthday
Lake Ontario, Pickering Waterfront Park, 7:53 am, four minutes after sunrise on December 26, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

The incredible twilight show in the sky, for me, was symbolic of a day in the life of an Alzheimer’s patient. In the horizon, I saw beautiful bright orange and red clouds that symbolized hope, then there was a dark swirling cloud that became the tail of a large gloomy cloud that represented despair and fear. Several minutes later as the sun continued to rise, and the skies turned blue, I saw the beautiful moon over Lake Ontario, representing hope once again. A normal-like pattern of behaviour in an Alzheimer’s patient, just like that of any other person without the disease, creates an absolutely thrilling moment for any family member, who might then say at that particular instant, ‘”my parent or spouse is healing and I can take him or her home. ” But that hope can quickly fade seconds, minutes or hours later when the patient’s behaviour pattern changes due to the disease; it is an unbearable moment for any loved family members or friends who may be around.

The Forthcoming 2022 In-Person Rita Hayworth Gala in Chicago: Founded and Chaired by Princess Yasmin Aga Khan

Our support for organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association and other local and national institutions in the communities we live in can contribute to finding a long-term improvement in the quality of lives of everyone afflicted with the disease or indeed, one day, in eliminating Alzheimer’s altogether.

Rita Hayworth Gala, Chicago, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, front row centre, in a group photo with members and supporters of the Alzheimer’s Association. Sadruddin Noorani who has been involved with the Alzheimer’s Association since the 1980’s is pictured on the back row, 3rd from left. Photo: Rita Hayworth Gala/Alzheimer’s Association.

I might note that Princess Yasmin founded and has been the Chair of the annual Rita Hayworth Galas in Chicago and New York since the mid 1980’s. The New York Gala now named the Imagine Benefit, has been built on the legacy of the Rita Hayworth Gala that was first held in 1984 — the latest Imagine event was held in November 2021.

The next Rita Hayworth Gala in Chicago, that was inaugurated in 1987, 3 years after the New York Gala, is scheduled to be held on April 23, 2022 at The Hilton in Chicago. It has been planned as an in-person event, with the presence of Princess Yasmin. However, the on-going pandemic situation may cause the event to be relayed virtually.

Simerg invites you to view the Rita Hayworth Gala information HERE. While the event titled “Generation of Hope” may be a few months away, your thoughtful support for the Alzheimer’s cause can begin at any time by visiting the website and submitting a pledge.

I am proud to say that a member of the Chicago Ismaili community, Sadruddin Noorani, has been very prominent in the Chicago Gala and the Alzheimer’s Association for years. His support to Princess Yasmin has been incredible and I would hope that hundreds, like him, from around the world will join Princess Yasmin in her effort to fulfill what we would all imagine would be her greatest wish on her birthday — finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Date posted: December 28, 2021.
Last updated: December 28, 2021; 10:30 AM (corrections, see below).

Corrections: (1) The original piece contained the wrong date for the forthcoming 2022 Alzheimer’s Rita Hayworth Gala in Chicago; the piece now reflects the correct date; (2) the Gala is not planned as a virtual event as mentioned in earlier versions. It is expected to be an in-person event, with Princess Yasmin in attendance unless of course the pandemic situation forces it to be a virtual event; and (3) corrections have been made to dates noted in the twilight photos.


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