In Celebration of Late Bloomers!

Thank you to everyone who supported this fun event which had a great five year run!!!
We are sorry to  say that we will not be hosting this event this year due to a variety of circumstances.
If you would like to continue to support the work of The Chordoma Foundation you can make donations in Alison Laird's memory via and direct your donation to The Chordoma Foundation and you will receive a tax receipt.

Thank you to everyone for making it possible for our event to win the 2014 Uncommon Award for our fundraising and public awareness work.  This award will be accepted on our behalf  in Frankfurt, Germany on June 20, 2014 at the European Chordoma Conference!!
In the spirit of The  Purple Aster and in memory of Alison remember "It is never too late to bloom!!".    
 Follow your dreams and live each day to the fullest.                                            


WHERE?   Festival Hall in Inglewood!          1215 10 Ave. SE Calgary.         

WHEN?    Sunday, June 2, 2013      Doors Open at 6:00  concert at 7:00           $30.00

WHO?       This years concert  featured Alberta Country Group of the Year, THE TRAVELLING MABELS,  Calgary songsmith PAUL RUMBOLT,  the amazing keyboard  &  vocalist MARTY ANTONINI and SEVENTH HEAVEN, official late bloomer CAROLYN HARLEY and Calgary's answer to Tom Waits, J.R. SHORE and THE JURY.


The Purple Aster  was started in memory of Alison Laird a dear friend who passed away from a rare and devestating spinal cancer called chordoma.
Alison was a wife, mother of three, an avid reader and active member of a local bookclub.  Alison loved travel and adventure.    She was funny and wise in her Scottish ways. Beause of her great sense of humour and adventure I know Alison would have loved The Purple Aster!   She would have been decked out in her wildest purple and  having a great time.

The purpose of The Purple Aster is three fold.

1)  To raise funds for research for a cure for this extremely rare form of spinal cancer.  
      Chordoma is considered an 'orphan disease' because it is so rare that it is extremely underfunded.

2)   To raise public awareness about this disease and the need to support funding reasearch for  'orphan diseases'

3)    To encourage the performance of original music

We are particularly excited to assist in the research project of Dr. Cheryle Seguin of The University of Western Ontario.  We are proud to be part of a Canadian project to explore a possible cure for chordoma! 

This years event was a spectacular success with Festival Hall bursting at the seams with people in purple laughing and bidding on the silent auction; enjoying the wonderful hors d'oueves sponsored by Community Natural Foods, sippping Big Rock Beer from another loyal sponsor; being amamzed at the talent on the stage for the concert and enjoying the surprise of an opera flash mob at intermisssion!!  

The event raised $14,000.00 which is matched by a donor of The Chordoma Foundation for a wonderful total of $28,000.00 for the evening.  An amazing accomplishment for such a small group of volunteers.  

Josh Sommer founder of The Chordoma Foundation and survivor of chordoma explained the power of research in the area of rare cancers.  Major research organizations are paying attention to the research accomplished by The Chordoma Foundation


Featured Champion

Annual concert, auction raise funds in memory of remarkable woman – and to provide hope to those still facing chordoma

Aster Organizers
Ian, Cat and Carolyn

One thing Alison Laird delighted in most during her eight-year battle with chordoma was proving her doctors wrong. A woman of amazing strength and spirit, she wasn’t about to let cancer rob her of the things she enjoyed – including traveling, dining and talking with others. As she went through multiple surgeries, long recoveries and hospitalizations, and treatments at home in Calgary, Canada and in California, she channeled that strength and spirit into making the most of life – and showing her doctors, family and friends how much she could still do.

“She was always finding the positives in the situation,” recalls her daughter, Catriona (Cat), who was at her mother’s side through most of her battle. “For instance, she always wanted to travel, so when she had to go to California for treatment, she saw it as a dream come true for her to get to visit there!”

On June 12, 2008, at the age of 60, Alison lost her long battle with chordoma. Cat, her father, Ian, and her mother’s close friend Carolyn Harley decided to plan a fundraising event in Alison’s memory to benefit chordoma research. The inaugural Purple Aster Concert and Silent Auction in Calgary drew more than 100 music lovers and friends to hear professional local musicians and learn more about this insidious form of cancer and the need for research funding. Each year, the event has grown – in 2012 the 4th annual Purple Aster drew 175 participants and raised more than $15,000. A special moment came when Chordoma Foundation board member Dr. Ed Les, also of Calgary and a chordoma survivor who provided a matching gift, told the crowd: “This isn’t just in memory of somebody we’ve lost now; this is a fight for all of us who are still fighting.”

Over the years, “the Aster” has raised nearly $55,000 to support the Chordoma Foundation’s work. The event is a team effort. Carolyn, a self-described late bloomer as a musician (the purple aster is a late-blooming flower), arranges the concert. Cat coordinates the silent auction, and Ian manages the finances. Other friends and family also pitch in.

This year, the funds raised by the Aster were designated toward a Chordoma Foundation seed grant awarded to Dr. Cheryle Séguin, a musculoskeletal researcher at the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Séguin, who studies spinal disc development, recently made a scientific breakthrough that provided the missing link researchers needed to study the genesis of chordoma. This grant will help Dr. Séguin’s lab take advantage of the opportunity created by this breakthrough. The Aster organizers and participants are especially excited to support chordoma research based in Canada. (To learn about Dr. Séguin’s research, click here.)

Of the Purple Aster event and the work that goes into it, Cat says: “My mother’s spirit drives all of this. She always had this way of surprising people and proving them wrong. We all feel the same way now. Chordoma doesn’t get to win.”