By Sarah Kerton

A unique fundraiser is taking place in March that allows community members to glimpse the daily experience of the blind or partially sighted. Dana Levanto, Carly Ross, and Ashleigh Quarrell are independently co-hosting Dining in the Dark for the second year in a row, in support of CNIB (formerly known as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind).

“Last year’s event was such a success that this year with our new location, we are really hoping to grow the event. Aside from the rewards of helping out a great cause, attendees can expect a dining experience they won’t soon forget!” says Quarrell.

With a secret menu (dietary restrictions accommodated) that promises to ignite the senses, participants will enjoy the textures and aromas of a delicious dinner while wearing eye-masks in a darkened ballroom. After the opportunity to buy drink tickets and bid on the silent auction in the lit entrance, participants will be led to their tables and assisted throughout the night by sighted guides who are trained volunteers with CNIB. A live sensory auction will take place throughout the evening, with four packages revealed that relate to touch, smell, taste, and sound. Participants will literally be bidding blind, with lots of hints eventually revealing the contents of the package!

In Northwestern Ontario, there are more than 1300 active clients accessing CNIB’s services. With less than 35% of their funding coming from government sources, CNIB relies heavily on corporate and individual donations. “Events such as this one help us to raise the funds and awareness we need to keep supporting our growing client base,” says Rob Gaunt, regional manager, Service and Operations for CNIB – North Region.

The event takes place on Thursday, March 3, 2016, at 6 pm at the Victoria Inn. Tickets available online (Eventbrite or Facebook: “Dining in the Dark in Support of CNIB Thunder Bay 2016”), or cash only at CNIB on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am-3 pm. Tickets are $100 each or $700 for a table of eight.