Braille is Literacy

TD Banknorth Garden welcomes National Braille Press

On Wednesday evening, the National Braille Press hosted the "Hands On!" Books for Blind Children gala at the TD Banknorth Garden. The event was co-chaired by Boston Celtics Managing Partner and Governor Wyc Grousbeck, Jennifer Khoury from Comcast and Tom Sullivan of Lumber Liquidators. The NBP aids blind children and adults in achieving independence and self-sufficiency by publishing text in Braille. Firmly believing that Braille is literacy, the goal of the NBP is to create an operational budget to publish Braille books.

The heartfelt night was filled with poems, stories, and even a journey to J. K. Rowling's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Present were members of the Boston Celtics ownership group Steve Pagliuca, Paul Edgerley and Wyc Grousbeck; NBA Commissioner David Stern, Celtics players Justin Reed, Kendrick Perkins, Delonte West and Tony Allen. Celtics legends Cedric Maxwell, JoJo White, Danny Ainge and Bob Cousy were also in attendance.

The event started off with a "Hands On!" interactive sports reception including a rock climbing wall, virtual golf game, and free throw shots on the famed parquet floor. Closing the sports reception was the Bain Capital Free Throw Challenge in which contestants were given two shots each, worth $5,000. The participants included Pagliuca, Khoury, Sullivan, Edgerley, Reed, West, Perkins, White, Ainge, and blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer. At the end of the contest the participants raised $50,000 for the National Braille Press.

The dinner portion of the evening commenced with host Greg Dickerson of Fox Sports New England introducing Tasha Chemel, junior at Brown University concentrating in art and writing, who spoke about her challenges and accomplishments in the classroom as a blind college student. Her poem "I Often Wonder" set the tone for the rest of the evening. Awards presented throughout the night were given to Weihenmayer and Stern for their accomplishments in furthering the awareness for Braille literacy.

Throughout the evening people in attendance were touched by emotional stories by Weihenmayer and his experience with the blind children of Tibet. He also spoke of his greatest accomplishment: climbing the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, including Mount Everest. West and 12-year-old Juna Gjata led the audience through a journey to Hogwarts by reading a short excerpt from the latest Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

The charitable evening ended with an auction where bidders generously gave to the cause. Among the items for auction were 4 VIP passes and tickets to the Rolling Stones concert in Boston, an NBA Fantasy Package, and a family climb with Weihenmayer in Colorado. For those who did not bid on the larger items, money was given through donations cards at the dinner tables. By the end of the night the approximate amount raised was around $640,000 but the final amount was still being tallied.

All children deserve the right to learn to read. The "Hands On" Books for Blind Children gala allows the National Braille Press to come that much closer to achieving this goal. For more information on the NBP, visit their web site at www.nbp.org.

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