The 12th annual Perkins Possibilities Gala had it all – inspiring student hosts, electrifying musical performances, and the opportunity for more than 500 guests to make a transformative difference in the education of students with visual impairment at Perkins and around the world.
“Now, more than ever, there is critical world-changing work to be done,” said Perkins Board Chair Corinne Basler Grousbeck. “And we are in the unique position of knowing what to do and how to do it.”
The May 4 event raised $1 million to support Perkins programs and initiatives, with a portion of that amount earmarked for assistive technology like braille notetakers and iPads with built-in accessibility features.
Throughout the night, guests heard from Perkins students, both in person and via video, about the importance of technology in their lives. Secondary Program student Zach listed off the various devices – from the iMac to the iPhone – that have helped him pursue his passion in music production. After college, he plans to turn that passion into a career.
“With all of the technology we have today, this will soon be a reality for me,” he said. “And I just can’t wait.”
Seventies funk band WAR ushered Gala-goers to the dance floor with hits like “Spill the wine” and “Why can’t we be friends?” They were joined onstage by the Perkins Chorus, who also performed a medley of Boston-themed songs including “Angels of Fenway” and “Shipping up to Boston.”
Perkins President and CEO Dave Power brought the crowd up to speed on Perkins’ latest programs and initiatives including College Success@Perkins, a gap-year program designed to equip students with visual impairment with the skills they need to graduate from college.
He also spoke about Perkins International Academy, the first-ever certified training program for international educators of children with multiple disabilities.
“We’ve got an ambitious goal of reaching 1 million teachers around the world,” he said.
Last year, Gala attendees witnessed the historic announcement of BlindNewWorld, Perkins’ social change campaign aimed at changing society's perception of people who are blind. Since its launch, the campaign has amassed 75,000 fans on social media and reached 47 million people with its message of inclusion.
“We aim to prepare children and prepare the world,” said Grousbeck, whose son Campbell attended Perkins. “That’s the code we need to crack. When we get that right, we will have a generation of blind students with vast capabilities and a society that fully accepts them.”
The Gala was co-chaired by Grousbeck and “Friends” producer Kevin Bright, who has produced and directed the Gala for seven consecutive years. During dinner, Bright urged guests to engage in conversation with the Perkins students and alumni in the room.
“Talk to them, get to know them,” he said. “Find out what incredible people come out of Perkins and how Perkins prepares them for life ahead.”