National Braille Press’s Virtual “A Million Laughs for Literacy” Gala Raises $285K for Braille Literacy

November 2, 2020

National Braille Press’s Virtual “A Million Laughs for Literacy” Gala Raises $285K for Braille Literacy

Guests Were Entertained by Actor and Comedian Jim Gaffigan, Blind Musicians and More


National Braille Press (NBP) raised more than $285,000 at its virtual gala “A Million Laughs for Literacy” held on October 15, 2020, and featured a live performance by award-winning actor and comedian Jim Gaffigan. The annual gala also launched the Right to Read for Everyone campaign to ensure that blind children and adults have access to materials in braille.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of our virtual gala as we surpassed our goal and raised more than $285,000 to support braille literacy,” said Brian Mac Donald, President of National Braille Press. “Although we were not together in person, our guests had a great time and truly understand the importance of their donations that provide books and materials in braille to the blind and visually impaired.”

For more than 15 years, the A Million Laughs for Literacy gala has raised millions of dollars to support National Braille Press’ Braille Literacy Programs which exist to ensure blind and visually impaired children are given an equal chance to read. Braille typically costs three times more to produce than the same materials in print, but NBP strives to make sure blind individuals do not have to pay more for the same information. Learning braille is the key to independence and employment opportunities for blind individuals.

The Co-Chairs for the NBP “A Million Laughs for Literacy” Gala include Ted Truscott, CEO of Columbia Threadneedle Investments, and his wife Kathy; and Tom Sullivan, Founder/Owner of Lumber Liquidators, Proton, Cabinets to Go, Chateau GABY, Gracious Home and Trashology.

Truscott said, “the event was simply first-rate. We all had a terrific time and portions of the event were truly moving.”  Sullivan said that he was very happy that the virtual event went so well and that there was a great response to the auction item he donated, a vacation at his vineyard Chateau Gaby in France, which sold twice!

The virtual gala, including the live auction, was MCd by Lisamaria Martinez, NBP trustee and Braille reader, a personal life coach and a graduate of UC Berkeley, and resides in Union City in the San Francisco, CA Bay area.

The event had many interactive elements including several breakout rooms that guests could chose to join during the cocktail hour including a jazz music session courtesy of Wayne Pearcy and Matt Savage, interactive cocktail making with virtual bartender Andrew Pelissier, and Laughing Yoga with Sandy Boris-Berkowitz.

In addition, guests got to hear from those who benefited from NBP’s release of free books during the beginning of the COVID-19 crises. From the UK to KY, Damien Garwood, Byron Sykes, Rita Reese-Whiting, and Mary Kozy expressed just how vital some of these skills were, especially during this time of social isolation.

Throughout the event, guests heard from some of our own local youth “comedians”: Hannah and Daniel Gevers of Arlington, MA, Matthew DeBrigard of Gloucester, MA, Will Hutcherson of Houston, TX, Matheus & Benjamin Silva of Middleborough, MA), and Annie Cohane of Norwell, MA who read from NBP’s Totally Silly Jokes book

The virtual gala also featured musical performances by seven blind musicians:

Megan Downing, freshman at Berklee College of Music, performed “Today I cry, tomorrow I smile” by Anthony Ramos, and Rocco Fiorentino, graduate of Belmont University, performed “Never Alone” by Lady A.  The song “You Can’t Read a Book Without Braille on the Cover” was performed by Precious Perez, student at Berklee College of Music, vocals; Shane Lowe, drums; Oveante Magsby, keyboard; Noé Socha, guitar and harmonica; and John Dowling, guitar and vocalist.


About National Braille Press

National Braille Press is a non-profit braille publisher and producer of braille products. NBP creates products and programs to support braille literacy in the blind community and to provide access to information that empower blind people to actively engage in work, family, and community. For more information visit

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