Better Makers: Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Virtual Holiday Celebration Raises Thousands to Empower People, Dogs and Communities

Supporters of Guide Dogs for the Blind gathered virtually — along with a small in-person consort at its San Rafael campus — on December 4 to help the nonprofit raise funds for its nationally renowned guide dog program that empowers lives by creating exceptional partnerships between people, dogs and communities.

liam mauclem and theresa stern
Emcees Liam Mayclem and CDB VIP of Integrated Clients Services and Engagement Theresa Stern. Photo courtesy of Guide Dogs for the Blind

Emmy Award-winning radio and TV personality Liam Mayclem served as host, and was joined by Theresa Stern, Guide Dogs for the Blind’s vice president of interdisciplinary client services and engagement, and her guide dog Wills to emcee and kick off the holiday season with a fun, festive event featuring powerful speakers, celebratory stories and of course, puppies.

Guide Dogs for the Blind President and CEO Christine Benninger artfully described the inventive tactics undertaken by the organization to keep pressing forward throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in light of travel restrictions. She shared the alternative methods Guide Dogs used to deliver puppies to its puppy raisers as well as keep its in-person training courses and youth programs thriving. Attendees also enjoyed a heartwarming video that showcased the power of the human-canine connection and were treated to a performance by Bay Area singer-songwriter Graham Norwood, who received his first guide dog, Malcolm, earlier this year. 

guide dogs for the blind
Photo courtesy of Guide Dogs for the Blind

The event, which attracted more than 1000 people virtually, raised more than $400,000 to support breeding, training and a lifetime of veterinary care for its guide dogs. The raised funds will also sustain a variety of training and support programs, including a summer camp for visually impaired children to introduce them to the guide dog lifestyle. All programs and services are provided free of charge to clients. As Guide Dogs for the Blind receives no government funding, the generosity of its donor community is crucial to its mission.

Event sponsors included:

  • Vicky & Marshall Berol
  • Janice & Thomas Berthold
  • Elizabeth A. Gard
  • The Klein Family

More from Marin:


A freelance writer in Marin who writes about family, kids and parenting, Glass is the mother to one son, one dog and a hamster named Miss Geri. When she’s not writing, trekking up steep hills in Marin or driving her kid to sports practice, she and her family spend time in their tiny cabin in Lake Tahoe. She avidly supports the California Academy of Sciences, a world class science museum and research institution, and the Institute on Aging which provides much needed services to Bay Area seniors and disabled adults. Glass is obsessed with baking the perfect loaf of banana bread, something she makes so often she no longer needs to look at a recipe card.