Elsewhere online
November 04, 2015

Blindness Charity Unravels Enigma Behind $125 Million Gift

A San Francisco charity for the vision-impaired will be transformed by a $125 million bequest it received last year from a businessman who was a complete stranger to the organization, Bay Area radio station KQED reports.

An episode of the public broadcaster's podcast The Leap digs into the donation from Donald Sirkin, a Seattle insurance executive who had no contact with LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired before leaving most of his estate to the group. The charity, which provides tools and training to help sight-impaired people lead independent lives, is starting its strategic planning for using the gift, which is 15 times greater than the group's annual budget.

LightHouse director Bryan Bashin traveled to Seattle to learn more about Mr. Sirkin, interviewing the late donor's friends and colleagues and visiting his home. He discovered that Mr. Sirkin had concealed his own sight loss and became increasingly reclusive in his final years. "When you get right down to it, the Sirkin bequest is about ... feeling like [blind people] can dream and have options and be proud of who we are," Mr. Bashin said.