What a wonderful 2017 Dining in the Dark experience. On February 4, 2017, at the Silverthorn County Club, 120+ guests converged to Dine in the Dark and support services for the blind. Before dinner, guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while participating in our Silent Auction, 50/50 Draw, and Selfie Contest; visiting our Assistive Technology Display; and, wearing vision simulators which simulate what is seen with various eye conditions. Then, with the assistance of the Hernando County S.W.A.T. Team using night vision monocles, guests were seated in the dining room where they enjoyed their appetizer in complete darkness. Diners commented, by saying, “I have a new appreciation for the blind,” “Every mouthful was a tasty surprise,” and “It is good for people to do this because it’s such an eye-opening experience.” After the appetizer, the lights came up and guests continued with their meal, some still wearing simulator glasses and blindfolds. The evening wrapped up with speeches, and then dancing thanks to the compelling beat of DJ Willie Matos. We also gave our Bright Light Of the Lighthouse Award to Wayne Selk, for going above and beyond to maintain the Lighthouse network.
While our guests had fun with vision simulators, dining and dancing, and participating in various activities, one of the night’s highlights was listening to Carl, a Lighthouse client alumnus, speak about meeting the challenges caused by vision impairment. Carl is a husband and a business owner, and he is hearing and vision impaired. He told us about growing up isolated and alone because of his hearing loss, and how a recent vision loss drove him into emotional darkness. When Carl came to the Lighthouse, he was in need of counseling and training in order to adjust to being deaf-blind. His individualized program included connecting him with others also experiencing a dual-sensory loss, and a strong emphasis on the development of tactual abilities. Carl is now able to use a white cane for safe travel, a computer with access technology to stay connected, and braille to read and write independently. He is confident and at peace and says he is a better person because of his life’s experience and because of Lighthouse services.