LeVar Burton watched with anticipation as the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign crept toward $1 million.
The actor and former host of the literacy-focused show had started the online fundraiser to bring the show back for new audiences. He launched the Kickstarter campaign on Wednesday with a goal of raising $1 million within the first 35 days.
Instead it took less than 24 hours.
In a video posted online on Thursday, LeVar Burton was seen watching a computer screen showing the campaign’s total. As it crept toward $1 million — a few hundred dollars as a time — the anticipation built. When it crossed the goal, Burton and the others involved in the campaign shared a cheer and a few hugs.
“I am overwhelmed,” he said. “Thank you so much. This is going to enable us to really, really, really do a lot of good. I am so proud that the community came forward to support this effort.”
The effort was very personal for LeVar Burton, who started the campaign himself. On the fundraising page, he described his desire to take the show to new audiences:
It was my mother who taught me that, by picking up a book, I could “go anywhere” and “be anything.” Ever since Reading Rainbow began in 1983, I have dedicated myself to fostering a love of reading in children, just as my mother did for me.
Over the past year, I have watched Kickstarter bring communities together to support artists and inventors. Again and again, I have been inspired by watching like-minded people team up to accomplish impossible dreams, and to change the world.
Now, I am hoping you will join me on my mission: to bring Reading Rainbow back for every child, everywhere.
Burton said he wanted to create an online version of the show as well as “classroom versions” for teachers. He also envisioned programs that could be delivered for free to low-income schools.
To entice donors, LeVar offered rewards for different levels of gifts, including an autographed headshot for those who give $110 and a personalized voicemail greeting for donors giving $400. Those who donate $10,000 or more get a private dinner with LeVar and a chance to wear the visor his character wore in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
But Thursday afternoon, many of the gifts had sold out completely, though the $10,000 package remained.
LeVar Burton and the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign are still taking donations, and as of Thursday afternoon were moving steadily toward $2 million.