Aiesha Robinson has a penchant for taking difficult situations and life circumstances and turning them into a viable means to connect with other people. I think that kind of alchemy is really wise and inspiring. Aiesha is the CEO and founder of the Montreal based non-profit organization Born to Rise. But she wasn’t always a CEO.

Aisha grew up in the West Island, did pretty well in school and excelled at basketball. She ended up playing CGEP ball at Dawson but never made it further— her dream was to play pro ball in the WNBA. When that didn’t happen for her she fell into a depression. She’d never thought about a plan B. In that same year she noticed a spot on her hand— Vitiligo. She sought help from a friend who had the disease and even though Aiesha was sure she had vitiligo she put off going to see the doctor for over a year. It’s been six years since her diagnosis and for the last four she’s eschewed treatment.

I talked to her about the emotional impact of having a disease that affects one’s appearance. Of course there was the initial social backlash, the strange looks. But then it became clear to Aiesha the that most of these prejudices are symptomatic of poor education – that’s the mission of Born to Rise: to create outreach and support for all kinds of people who are suffering. Robinson seeks to help those who are bullied, have drug problems, issues with sexuality or problems at home by opening a centre where suffering people can come and share their problems. She said—

“We can only accept others once we accept ourselves”

To kick off her campaign she’s throwing at Gala at Westmount High School on April 25th – all kinds of entertainment. A great line up that includes moving motivational speakers, hip-hop dancers and all kinds of other cool acts will be there at the Born to Rise Launch Party. I’ll be there, come check it out. There is no better cause to support right now.

Photo by Stanislav Troitsky