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Blind Center gearing up for largest fundraiser of year

Tickets are now on sale for the Blind Center of North Carolina’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

The fourth-annual Dr. Dennis A. O’Neal Memorial Dining in the Dark Gala is slated for Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Washington Yacht & Country Club.

Liz Liles, executive director of the Blind Center of North Carolina, said the gala is a chance to honor past employees and volunteers, raise money and awareness for the blind and visually and impaired and also show a glimpse into the future of the Blind Center.

“We are launching the ‘Fight for Sight’ initiative. It will be unveiling of the strategic plans for the assistive technology. Through the event, the participants will have the opportunity to be the first in the know about the expansion we are doing,” Liles said.

The ‘Fight for Sight’ campaign is a progressive campaign that will provide a full research lab including assisted technology for the blind and low vision, according to Liles.

The event will also give participants the chance to put themselves in the shoes of blind and visually impaired. Liles said during dessert there will be a blindfold in guests’ seats, and they are encouraged to wear it while they eat dessert to simulate what it would be like to live without vision.

“People are trying to eat dessert, and you can’t see. Just trying to find your utensil and find the food and make it to your mouth… it’s comical, but it’s also humbling on the same token,” Liles said. “There are so many things that we take for granted, we don’t have to think twice about. This is every day that (the blind) have to have this challenge.”

Liles said she hopes the challenge will spark some understanding and compassion.

Dining in the Dark will include a live and silent auction, and Liles said she will be teasing those items on the Blind Center’s Facebook page every Friday afternoon leading up to the event.

Some items include an autographed Carolina Hurricanes hockey stick, East Carolina University football tickets and North Carolina Symphony tickets.

All proceeds go towards the Blind Center of North Carolina and client programming, according to Liles.

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at The Blind Center, Stewart’s Jewelry Store or Robinson’s Jewelry in Greenville. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.blindcenter.org by donating $50 and specifying “ticket” in the memo line.

The event is on Sept. 8 from 6-8 p.m. at The Washington Yacht & Country Club, located at 7155 River Road, Washington. Contact Liz Liles for more information at 252-946-6208. The Blind Center is located at 221 N. Harvey St., Washington.