02/10/2018 4th Annual Dining in the Dark Dinner & Dance Benefit

Dining in the Dark Logo

Dining in the Dark is held in velvety darkness with interludes of light–you enjoy your appetizer in complete darkness but have a choice of eating your main course and dessert ‘with your eyes’ or while using simulator glasses and blindfolds. This simulation in vision impairment allows your sense of taste, smell, and touch to take over; you savor sensuous tastes, smells and textures, while challenging your palate to tease out the mysteries of the menu. Dining in the Dark is also a fundraiser, back by popular demand, in support of Lighthouse services for people who are visually impaired and blind.

2018 Event Recap–4th Annual Dining in the Dark

What a wonderful 2018 Dining in the Dark experience! On February 10, 2018, at the Silverthorn Country Club, 130+ guests gathered to Dine in the Dark and support services for the blind. This year’s Dining in the Dark included a wonderful meal, a selfie contest, a silent auction, no-peeking violations, and of course, dancing. Many of these activities were done in the dark, or while wearing special glasses to simulate vision loss caused by various eye conditions. This year, we had a special treat—guest violinist Hailey Skoglund played her violin during the reception and dinner, thus enhancing the overall Dining in the Dark experience. Hailey is a gifted and visually impaired high school/college student who has used Lighthouse services to increase her independence.

In addition, at the event, we presented the Bright Light Award to the very deserving and talented photographer, J. David Wright, who helps nonprofits, including the Lighthouse, tell their stories through expert photography; we heard from 2 guest speakers with a strong understanding of vision impairment and Lighthouse services—Audrey Flege, a parent of 2 visually impaired children who are meeting their developmental milestones with the help of Lighthouse’s Early Intervention, and Gigi Citarella, a visually impaired woman who used our Independent Living Skills Program in the 90’s in order to develop the adaptive skills needed to care for herself, her children, and her home. The Hernando Sheriff Office’s SWAT team was also presented with an award of appreciation for their support of the Lighthouse, and for guiding our Dining in the Dark guests safely in the dark using night vision.

Guests of this year’s event told us many things. Many said they have great respect for people who are blind because it is very challenging to eat salad without sight. Some said, even with instruction, it was very difficult to find their beverages and use cutlery with confidence, because they normally relied on their sight, and not their sense of touch in order to eat. One visually impaired person said she is happy her family had the Dining in the Dark experience because while they live with her and her vision loss, they really don’t understand what it’s like to not see or to not see well. In general, the consensus was life would be very different without training to cope with having less sight.

Happily, this year’s Dining in the Dark raised more funds than in previous years, as more people became aware of the event and of the work of our Lighthouse. The event’s proceeds will help the Lighthouse provide training for independence to people who are visually impaired and blind of all ages. Fundraisers such as Dining in the Dark, and the Chasco Coronation Ball being held on March 9, are extremely important every year, but this year, we also will building a new facility in New Port Richey, with a ground breaking on March 15, 2018. Learn about our new home and ways you can help with our legacy. Also, please support Dining in the Dark’s list of generous sponsors and donors.

See an independent video taken at the event by Ferdi Works TV Network.

2018 Sponsors & Supporters


  • Publix Super Markets Charities


  • Lema Construction
  • Synovus Securities, Inc.


  • Citarella Termite & Pest Management
  • H.T. Mai Inc.
  • PDQ- FL- GA Restaurant Holdings, LLC
  • Raymond James

Silent Auction Donors

  • Addome Bella Spa
  • BarbieCue
  • Bill and Mary Repper
  • Black Diamond Ranch
  • Bonefish Grill Cortez Blvd.
  • Breakfast Station
  • Brian’s Place Restaurant
  • Brooksville Country Club at Majestic Oaks
  • Capelli Hair Salon
  • Central Florida Public Adjusters/Philly Cheese Steak
  • CiCi’s Pizza
  • Citarella Termite & Pest Management
  • Clear Cut Lawn care and Landscaping
  • Family Car Wash
  • Florida Cracker Kitchen
  • Golden Corral
  • GTC Beacon Theatres – Brooksville
  • Hernando Oaks Golf & Country Club
  • Holiday Inn Clearwater Beach South – Harbourside
  • Karma Spirits & Cafe
  • La Bella Napoli Restaurant
  • La Boutique of Spring Hill
  • Lighthouse Board of Directors
  • Little Lady Cafe
  • Live Oak Theatre Company
  • Luigi’s Pizza
  • Marker 48 Brewing
  • Murphy Market
  • Murphy’s C&C Janitorial Service
  • Osprey Yoga
  • Pearl Porch
  • PJ’s Brick Oven Pizza
  • PRP Wine International, Inc.
  • Salon Halo
  • Sanford and Victoria Barley
  • Seven Hills Golfers Club
  • Silverthorn Country Club
  • Sinner N Saints
  • Southern Hills Plantation Golf Club
  • Southern Woods Golf Club
  • Spa #1 Nails
  • The Main Street Eatery
  • Total Dimension Hair, Nail Salon
  • Tractor Supply Co.
  • Up 4 Breakfast

Other Donors & Special Thanks

  • ABCO Graphics & Commercial Print
  • Theo Batchelder/ SunTrust Investment Services
  • George Medler
  • Joseph Militello, MD PA, The Eye Center
  • Felten Professional Adjustment Team, LLC
  • Hernando County Sheriff’s Office
  • Albert and Margaret Lusardi
  • Joseph Mayer and Susan Domingues
  • Robert Milford
  • Patriot Lending
  • Photos by J David
  • Edward and Eileen Quigley Jr.
  • RE/MAX Marketing Specialists – The Hardy Team
  • Scott & Maureen Scurlock
  • Frances Wolf

Dining in the Dark Committee

  • J. Bruce Pienkos (Event Chair)
  • Maria Pienkos
  • Kevin & Gigi Citarella
  • Sarah Duncan
  • Aaron Lyon
  • John & Debbie Mann
  • Joseph Mayer & Susan Domingues
  • Captain James Powers & other members of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office

If you would like to be on the event mailing list for the 2019 event, please email events@lvib.org. You can also show your support by sending a Dining in the Dark email to your friends & family.