For Kim Marsden, dining in darkness isn’t new thing, but for nearly 40 patrons at the Humber Room on Nov. 10, it was a new experience.
The Humber Room hosted a Dine in The Dark event to raise awareness for those living with vision loss. The event had people eat a meal despite not being able to see it, just like Marsden has been doing for the past 16 years.
“Please just say hello to us,” said Marsden, a client in the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), who was joined with her black Lab guide dog Zephyr. “We can remember who tend to help us only doing that.”
Marsden, 37, lost her vision because of diabetic retinopathy, a progressive eye disease that affects 500,000 Canadians, according to the CNIB, the country’s support organization for the blind and partially sighted. CNIB was formed in 1918 to help people dealing with blindness after the First World War.
Marsden said CNIB gave her understanding, freedom and friends as well as a less stressful life despite her vision loss.
Andrea Roylance, manager at CNIB, said the agency offers personalized rehabilitation programs and teaches people how to live an independent life after vision loss.
Since CNIB is a charity, it is important for it to raise funds to maintaining the organization.
“We hope to create more wellness, and to allow an experience a little bit to understand what people would be in the life without sight,” Roylance said.
Dining in the Dark was planned by five University of Guelph-Humber students: Richard Roberts, Sasha Pirjamali, Annmarie Abdool, Priti Purhit and Priya Purhit, all business at Guelph-Humber students who wanted to support the CNIB.
“We are very exciting and nervous,” Pirjamali said before the event.
They thought of the charity event to raise money for CNIB, and they did pretty well, bringing in $500 in donations for the charity. The students group have been preparing for the event since September as part of their program work.
“We expect to acquire a large amount of funds for the charity,” Roberts said. “And a lot of people will come out to have great time together and know what the CNIB is.”
Patricia Peel, a professor in teaching entrepreneurship in University of Guelph-Humber, said the event idea came from the students. It offered them a chance to learn about the not-for-profit sector and some of the fund-raising issues it faces.
Peel said the project also hosted a silent auction where a few hundred dollars more was expected to be raised for the CNIB.
“It’s a real learning opportunity for them, not just to understand the not-for-profit sector and charities and some of the issues they face, but it’s a real opportunity for them to practice their project management skills, their event management skills and their organization and marketing skills,” she said.