Perkins Possibilities Gala raises over $1.6 million

Gala co-chairs Kevin Bright, Corinne Grousbeck and Bill Schawbel

About 600 supporters took part in a memorable night of entertainment and inspiration on the campus of Perkins School for the Blind on May 1.

May 2, 2014

The Perkins community came together to make the 2014 Possibilities Gala a resounding success, raising over $1.6 million for Perkins' global mission.

About 600 supporters took part in a memorable night of entertainment and inspiration on the campus of Perkins School for the Blind on May 1. Corinne Grousbeck, incoming chair of the Perkins Board of Trustees, co-chaired the event with local businessman and philanthropist Bill Schawbel and "Friends" producer Kevin Bright of Emerson College. Bright put together a '70s funk-charged stage show with the powerhouse Perkins Chorus and The Family Stone whose high-energy, horn-driven soul sound filled the dance floor.

Helping students who are blind make the transition to independent, successful lives after graduation was a main focus of the Gala, which featured powerful videos highlighting the stories of recent Perkins graduates.

"What a wonderful night for Perkins!" said Perkins Trust Executive Director Kathy Sheehan.  "From the amazing chorus to the videos and heartfelt remarks, our guests experienced Perkins' remarkable work and were inspired to get involved and advance our mission."

Dave Power made his first public appearance as Perkins' new President and CEO, and said his priorities include helping students transition to adult living, promoting literacy through braille and accelerating innovation to create new opportunities for people who are blind.

"If we can do this, the possibilities for the future are unlimited," he said.

Serving as guest auctioneer, comedian Lenny Clarke coaxed $120,000 from the generous crowd. Meanwhile, graduating senior Campbell Grousbeck joined his mom, Corinne, onstage for the annual Technology Challenge. The pair raised over $275,000 to provide technology to Perkins grads as they take their next step in life.

As if to echo the Perkins Chorus rendition of "We are Family," Wyc Grousbeck, Corinne's husband and Campbell's dad, issued a call to action to the business community. The Boston Celtics CEO announced the formation of the Perkins Business Partnership, a pioneering initiative aimed at reducing the 75 percent unemployment rate for people who are blind. Eleven of the region's largest companies have signed on as partners.

"We are going to take the most brilliant, most philanthropic, most tuned-in employers and corporations in Greater Boston, and get their smartest people together around the table to solve the puzzle and crack the code," he said. "And if we do it here in Boston, it will spread worldwide."