[tabi] Re: Mack's Dining in the Dark Democrat article

  • From: Lighthouse of the Big Bend <lighthousebigbend@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2011 11:21:40 -0400

We agree! So glad the Democrat had a table and we all got such good
coverage. Let's here it for expanding awareness!

On 10/7/11, Erica <ericamccaul@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Tabi,
> I thought Elizabeth did a wonderful job of giving thoughtful consideration
> to her experiences Sunday night.
> Erica
> Writer gets a taste of Dining in the Dark
> 11:58 PM, Oct. 5, 2011
> by Elizabeth Mack / Democrat
> It's one thing to close your eyes to be in the dark and see nothing. Once
> you open them again, there's light and your sight has returned.
> It's something else to close your eyes, open them and it's still dark.
> It makes you think: What would you do if your entire world was like
> constantly walking around in a pitch-black room?
> I got a small taste of that thanks to Lighthouse of the Big Bend and its
> annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark event — a fundraiser for the
> organization that also brings those with sight a deeper perspective on what
> it is like for those who are visually impaired.
> When I had determined I wanted to go, I was excited. But on the day of the
> event, I realized more and more that the idea of not seeing anything and
> eating a three-course meal made me really nervous. Yet, the anticipation of
> seeing how the nonprofit pulls off the event each year drove my curiosity to
> go through with it.
> The Lighthouse was gracious enough to offer a "dining in the dark" training
> before the dinner. I watched a volunteer from the audience, practicing with
> her eyes closed, season her food with pepper, believing it was salt.
> After watching I decided that I would not be seasoning my food for the
> dinner.
> Guests were escorted table by table to the University Center Club ballroom
> from the ground floor. As we rode to the ballroom level, it seemed as though
> everyone onboard the elevator had jitters.
> And once the door of the elevator opened it was dark — but not completely.
> However, once I and the others were lined up, holding the shoulder of the
> person in front of us, we made our way to the ballroom, where it was
> absolutely dark.
> It's hard to describe closing and opening your eyes, even squinting, and
> still seeing virtually nothing but maybe the faint glow from a watch. It's
> even harder describing the various feelings of not being able to see.
> Through the meal, I felt uncomfortable. I had to constantly reach out and
> touch the hand of my guest to help me feel at ease.
> Melinda Soto, account executive for national and major accounts for the
> Tallahassee Democrat, was also at the table. She described her experience as
> feeling isolated and disorientated.
> "I've never felt more isolated," she said. "Everyone seemed so distant. But
> certainly my attention seemed better, making the conversations feel more
> intimate."
> It is said that when one sense is lost, another is heightened. However, I
> still don't know if that is true.
> To me, sound was coming from everywhere, I was facing the wrong direction
> while listening to the speaker and I thought I was just eating steak, when
> it turned out I was also eating chicken.
> It seemed the process of eating without sight required, for one, a lot of
> patience. But you have to be very involved.
> I learned that after a few stabs with the fork, it was totally OK that I
> used my finger to spread butter on my roll and hands to scoop my salad onto
> my fork and eat my dessert.
> "I'll let you in on a little secret," said Jada Michaels, keynote speaker at
> the event, who lost her sight 12 years ago due to a brain tumor. "If I come
> up empty after three stabs with the fork, I use my hands."
> Through this experience, I can't say that being visually impaired is not
> something that I fear any less than before.
> I remember when the dinner ended and the lights were turned on, I felt a
> sense of comfort in seeing again.
> Eating without sight for just those couple of hours was such a struggle.
> It's something I would not like to do every day. But the reality is some
> people don't have a choice.
> I left that evening having a new level of respect for those that are living
> in a world they can't see. I was in a controlled environment, but the world
> is not like that. And I believe those without sight are truly brave for
> conquering it each day.

Lighthouse of the Big Bend
Guiding People Through Vision Loss
3071 Highland Oaks Terrace
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 942-3658
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