From the July 2016 issue of The Rotarian
When Brad Rubini was reading a bedtime story to his seven-year-old daughter, Claire, she asked him why he was reading the words wrong.
“I’m dyslexic, so I thought I was reading the words right,” recalls Rubini, a past president of the Rotary Club of Toledo, Ohio.
After he explained his problem, she began to read to him on most nights instead. “She was a voracious reader and storyteller. She was always telling stories, even when she was a toddler,” he says.
Three years later, while Claire was away at summer camp, she died unexpectedly as a result of a heart ailment. Rubini and his wife, Julie, channeled their grief and honored their daughter’s love of reading by creating Claire’s Day, now one of Ohio’s largest children’s book festivals. Since 2001 the event has grown into a weeklong celebration that includes visits by about 15 authors and illustrators to 32 area schools. The week concludes with a book festival on the third Saturday in May, near Claire’s birthday (May 24). Claire’s Day operates with a budget of $60,000, funded through corporate and community donations, including about $5,000 from area Rotary clubs. The 2016 event was expected to reach up to 27,000 children and families.
“The goal of mine has been to have Claire’s Day be in Rotary clubs all throughout the world,” says Rubini, who is now the literacy chairman of District 6600 (Ohio). “It’s not that hard, and the reward of it is so tremendous.”