Dinner in the Dark raises awareness for the visually impaired

The eighth annual Dinner in the Dark was presented by student organization Case for Sight at Excelsior Ballroom in Thwing Center on Friday, Sept. 22. Dinner in the Dark, which sought to raise awareness for the vision impaired, hosted a guest speaker, followed by a dinner portion in which attendees were asked to blindfold themselves for the duration of the dinner.

Case for Sight is a service-based, vision advocacy organization that fundraises for local, national and international non-profits. It also serves the Cleveland community, namely through Cleveland Sight Center (CSC), in efforts to prevent blindness.

Since 2009, the annual benefit dinner is the organization’s largest event of the school year. Jaeyoung Heo, president of the organization, described the purpose of the blindfolds and the event itself: to help raise awareness of the visually impaired in the community. All the proceeds from the event supported the CSC.

Cleveland Sight Center is a non-profit organization that seeks to enable those who are blind, or those who have low vision, to achieve independence. It offers vision rehabilitation services as well as developmental and vocational services to help those with limited vision to live to their full potentials.

The evening included a talk from Dr. Jonathan Lass, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and researcher at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, who spoke on the topic of “Pursuing a Career in Clinical Research and Medicine.” He reflected on his formative years and how his early interest in ophthalmology shaped his career as a physician and researcher. Dr. Lass also advised students interested in medicine to be involved in research and to find their passions earlier on in their academic careers.

Lisa Cellura, manager of community engagement at CSC, spoke of the event as an opportunity for the attendees to “change the way [they] think about the world [around them].” As guests are asked to eat without the aid of vision, they realize how much their sight is taken for granted.

For interested students or members of the CWRU community, there are various ways to get involved locally in raising awareness for the visually impaired, one of which is volunteering with CSC. Volunteering with CSC offers opportunities to experience patient interactions, provide eye exams and develop strong connections with the clients who visit the center. Another is to join Case for Sight, which holds other events such as cow eye dissections, making tactile books and learning how to read braille. Interested students can contact Case for Sight via email.