On February 2, 2013, friends and family of Shaheena Karimi held a Gala Event to honor Shaheena’s memory and raise funds for the Excellence through Service Scholarship created at Barnard College. The lovely evening of dinner and entertainment was attended and sponsored by Shaheena’s friends, family, and the Ismaili Muslim Community of Southern California. The event was held at the South End Racquet & Health Club in Torrance, California, which was Shaheena’s hometown.
The table décor reminded us of Shaheena’s bittersweet legacy as it displayed some of Shaheena’s favorite books. Shaheena had an unparalleled passion for reading which was not only reflective of her avid book collection at home but also of how she departed from us. On the night of her 33rd birthday, her heart stopped and she passed away peacefully while reading one of her favorite books. Each table centerpiece consisted of a tower of Shaheena’s books stacked with flowers and butterflies displaying some of her favorite quotations from those books. The quotations glistened in the candlelight on the table and guests commented that Shaheena’s presence was truly felt that evening as they read each quotation.
The event started off with dinner and a brief welcome by Shaheena’s father, Nizar Karimi. Nizar offered words of heartfelt appreciation as he addressed the 226 attendees and 27 event sponsors. The master of ceremonies, Muizz Kheraj, narrated a story about Shaheena’s journey through life and how, despite seemingly insurmountable struggles, it served as an inspiration to countless people, some of who were present in the room that evening. Dinner rounded off with a dessert bar featuring a chocolate fountain and desserts from Shaheena’s favorite little bakery. The evening ended with a music program led by singer/entertainer Charanjeet Singh.
The event was an enormous success. Each individual ticket sold at $100 and sponsorship sold at $500 resulted in a contribution of more than $31,000 to the endowment. The evening helped Shaheena’s friends and family reach their fundraising goal and ensured that Shaheena’s legacy would live on at Barnard College forever. Guests left the gala event with mixed emotions; they were sad to be reminded that someone whom they cherished had to leave them too soon but happy to know that they were part of something that made Shaheena’s memory eternal.