Traveling Stories will host its inaugural Red Balloon Awards dinner and gala event in conjunction with National Literacy Month on Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 6 to 9:30 pm at the San Diego Woman’s Club, 2557 Third Ave., San Diego, CA 92130. The event will honor five literacy heroes and benefit the organization’s StoryTent program, which provides free reading support to more than 2,000 underserved children in San Diego every year.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 82 percent of low-income children in America cannot read at grade level by the fourth grade, which leaves them 15 times more likely to drop out of school.

The Red Balloon Awards bring the community together to celebrate businesses and individuals who make literacy a priority and partner with organizations and teachers to improve children’s reading levels.

Winners of the award are selected based on the literary works they create, their advocacy efforts and the financial support they make.

This year’s award recipients include IDW Publishing, Kevin Eastman (co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Las Patronas, Waypoint Public and Don & Jo Soderquist. Traveling Stories will also announce a Volunteer of the Year on the night of the event.

This year’s gala, with the theme “Cirque du Livre” (Circus of Books), will begin with a cocktail reception with music by DJ Marcus More and live cirque performances. The event includes a silent auction. In addition, VIP guests will have the chance to visit with former professional U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan for a special cocktail hour.

The awards show will be hosted by Emily Moberly, San Diego Woman of the Year Finalist and Founder of Traveling Stories, and 10-year-old Malika Shaw, a regular attendee at the City Heights StoryTent. Shaw was the guest of honor at Traveling Stories’ 2014 event “A Night Out So They Can Read.” She was recently reclassified from a below-average reader to an accelerated reader at school. Her mom credits this improvement to the weekly visits Shaw makes to the Traveling Stories StoryTent.

“The Red Balloon Awards is a chance to celebrate the transformative power of reading,” said Moberly. “The funds raised from this event are vital for ensuring that children in San Diego become confident readers and attain every opportunity to flourish.”

Key sponsors for the Red Balloon Awards include Mission Federal Credit Union, IDW Publishing, Mike Hess Brewing Company and St. Petersburg Vodka. Event planning services are provided by Live Life Shredded.

A 2016 finalist for the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize, Traveling Stories sets up mobile StoryTent programs at farmers markets and provides free reading support to underserved children. Children visit the program, read books to volunteers or their parents, and earn a book buck for each book read. Children may use their book bucks to redeem prizes.

Early-bird ticket registration for the Red Balloon Awards is $65 per person ($75 after 8/15/16) or $450 for a table of eight ($600 for a table of 8 after 8/15/16), while sponsorship opportunities range from $450 to $10,000.

Tickets may be purchased online at For more information or to become a sponsor while helping local children and their families fall in love with reading, contact Alyssa Humbert 619.919.5115 or

Media Contact:

Emily Moberly