A charity that helps the blind was stunned when a man they’d never heard from before left them $125 million in his will.
A Seattle, Washington businessman, Donald Sirkin, left almost all of his estate to LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco, but no one at the charity had ever heard of him. Their records showed he’d never contributed to the nonprofit group in the past.
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Lighthouse CEO Bryan Bashin visited Seattle to learn more about the mysterious benefactor–a recluse who had built a successful insurance business.
Only after touring Sirkin’s house, did Bashin realize the significance of the millionaire’s gift.
The large house was in disrepair, and after seeing giant screen televisions, light boxes, and magnifiers, Bashin realized Sirkin had lost his own eyesight — and had been hiding it. That also explained why he’d become a recluse.
Bashin is still trying to figure out how to use Sirkin’s gift, which is 15 times the group’s annual operating budget. Lighthouse hopes to build a new headquarters, with dormitories where people can live while learning how to use blind technology and the necessary skills. There’s talk about endowing an award for exceptional blind people or those who develop technology to help the blind.
Like Sirkin, CEO Bashin also hid his advancing blindness for years, but advises others not to: “Don’t just hide. This is not some kind of deep loss,” he told NPR News. “This is just another side of being human.”
Photo: Lrcg2012, CC
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