The 25th Anniversary of the Abilities United’s historically successful fundraiser, Authors Luncheon.This popular event will be held on Saturday October 29 and features another panel of renowned, best selling authors, Mark Kurlansky, Dan Santat, Maria Semple, and Erin Gleeson. The authors entertained over 500 guests at the Authors Luncheon 25th anniversary celebration. It consistently raises over $350,000 for Abilities United award-winning services for children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities. Funds are raised through sponsorships, ticket sales, and the “fund a future” auction.

The Authors Luncheon details are as follows:

Saturday, October 29, 2016
Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel
4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto

10:30 a.m.
Pop-up book store by Books Inc. opens for sales and book signings
Abilities United art show and silent auction

11:30 a.m. Ballroom opens for luncheon seating

12-2:00 p.m. Welcome, Abilities United presenter, and Author Presentations

  • M.C. Rita Williams of Portola Valley, Emmy award-winning journalist and former KTVU-SF reporter opens the luncheon. She retired from her 35-year KTVU SF career in 2014 and received the Governor’s Award, the highest honor of the San Francisco/Northern California chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2009, she also won a George Peabody award for her lead investigative reporting.
  • Laurie Jarrett, a Palo Alto parent of an adult child with a developmental disability, is also a retired Abilities United board member and Authors Luncheon committee member since it’s founding in 1991. Laurie will speak about her and her family’s experience raising a child with a developmental disability into adulthood and the impact Abilities United has had on their family beginning in 1972 when her daughter was 4 months old in the Abilities United early intervention program and throughout her daughter’s 44 years of childhood and adulthood. Laurie and her family have a passion for Abilities United and the Authors Luncheon and have contributed to the organization for the past 44 years as fundraisers, donors, volunteers, and advocates for services for people with developmental disabilities.

Author Presentations

  • Maria Semple, novelist and screenwriter who was recently featured on the front cover of the Books in Review section of the October 9 New York Times, will talk about Today Will Be Different, her acclaimed new novel about a day in the life of a woman forced to abandon her small ambitions.
  • Mark Kurlansky, a New York Times best selling author and journalist will speak about his book, Paper: Paging through History, a definitive history of paper and the astonishing ways it has shaped today’s world
  • Erin Gleeson, New York Times best selling author and food blogger, will discuss her current New York Times bestseller, The Forest Feast Gatherings, her third book in a series. When not creating and illustrating her recipes, Erin teaches photography at Stanford’s Continuing Studies program and works as a freelance food photographer and illustrator.
  • Dan Santat, author and illustrator of several children’s books and winner of last year’s Caldecott Medal will present his book, Are We There Yet? which takes readers on the road trip of a lifetime

2:00 p.m. Book sales and signing continue

20% of the profits will be donated by Books Inc. to Abilities United in support of its programs.

Co-chairs of the 25th Annual Abilities United Authors Luncheon are Paula Rini of Los Altos and Rachel Segars of Palo Alto. Rachel Segars, current President of the Abilities United Board, has been involved with Abilities United since 2009 when her son participated in the Early Intervention program. She founded the parent participation, the support group, and the numerous resources provided by the Early Intervention team invaluable for dealing with the challenges of raising a child with special needs. “I was blown away by the dedication of this small team, whose commitment to respecting and empowering our young children with difficulties and supporting their families is truly inspiring.” She has served on the Authors Luncheon Committee since 2011.

Paula Rini joined the Authors Luncheon Committee in 2005 to coordinate the newly- inaugurated Abilities United Art Exhibit and Auction, which, for the past 10 years has generated art sales and income for the artists that Abilities United represents. Paula has also been involved in organizing the day of the event presentation and working with Abilities United participants to create special centerpieces for the event.

Each year, this popular literary and social event draws a sold-out audience of over 600 book lovers from throughout the Bay Area. Over the 25 years, the audience has been wowed, entertained, and mesmerized by over 100 authors including such notable locals as Martin Cruz Smith, Daniel Handler, Jennifer Holm, James D. Houston, Thacher Hurd, Anne Lamott, Yiyun Li, Ann Packer, Richard Rodriquez, Lalita Tademy, David Kennedy, and Gail Tsukiyama.

During its 25 year history, the Authors Luncheon has raised over $3 million. In its first year, the event raised approximately $30,0000 and this year is expected to raise over $390,000 through ticket sales, sponsorship, book sales and donations. These funds are used to provide services to people with developmental and physical challenges through Abilities United’s services including Children’s Development, Family Support, Adult Services and Aquatic Services. Since it’s inception in 1992, the Authors Luncheon has doubled from 325 attendees to today’s dedicated audience of over 600 attendees.

The Abilities United art exhibit and silent auction, now in its 11th year as part of the luncheon and sponsored by Great American Framing Company of Palo Alto, will showcase original works of art by artists of Abilities United. 100% of the proceeds go directly to the artists who range in age from 3 years old to over 50 years old and participate in all of Abilities United services…Children’s, Adult, Family and Aquatic Services. These 12 original works of art are also featured in the Abilities United annual report, which is designed as a 2017 calendar. Historically, nearly all the pieces of art have been sold at the auction with prices ranging from $50 to $500.

Since 2005, Abilities United has partnered with Books Inc., which sponsors the bookstore for the event. Margie Scott Tucker, co-owner of Books Inc., also sits on the Authors Selection committee, which selects the four authors to present and sign books at the luncheon.