Although vision is one of our greatest senses, a loss of vision can open up a heightened awareness in all the other senses. Many notable musicians such as Andrea Bocelli, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles are visually impaired. These individuals, along with many others, have reached beyond their sight to embrace the world around them.

On Friday, June 22, the Vision Resource Center of Fayetteville will host its 1st Annual Out of Sight dining event. The event will take place from 7-11 p.m. at the Highland Country Club and is sure to be an eye educational experience for all the guests. 06-13-12-outofsightdining.jpg

Attendees will get to be a part of “blindfold” dining where they will have the chance to experience what it is like to be visually impaired. Following dining will be dancing to the sounds of the Essential Elements Smooth Jazz Band. The night will also feature special music by 13-year-old Michael Macias, who has been blind since he was four months old. Come and let your ears embrace the sounds as he graces the keys of the piano, playing various pieces — to include his original composition “Listening Walk.” A silent auction will also be held.

Through the Out of Sight dining event, the Vision Resource Center desires to raise awareness about the visually impaired as well as raise funds to continue to support the Visually Impaired (VI) community. The center’s purpose is to make people aware of the VI community and the services available to them.

Currently in Cumberland County there are approximately 631 individuals who are registered as VI. “There are so many more out there,” states Terri Thomas, executive Director of the Vision Resource Center (VRC). The VRC wants to reach them. Those listed as visually impaired, have greatly reduced or low vision, or are legally blind or blind. Many of them are unaware of the resources available.

The dining event serves as one of the main fundraisers for the center, and is one way the community can assist the VRC in its efforts. “We can learn so much from them,” states Thomas. This dining experience will allow you to take a moment and step into the world they way the visually impaired experience it everyday.

The VRC offers many services. Currently the staff are working with the Cumberland County School System to reach the student population. Through their combined efforts parents can find out about financial resources available and receive information on how to better advocate for their children.

The children benefit in numerous ways as well, one of them being that “they are able to connect and socialize with other visually impaired children,” says Thomas, giving them a sense of belonging with someone who understands them at their level. The center also has a youth program that reaches out to all kids in the Cumberland County area. Program activities include monthly activities, summer camp and transitions programs to prepare students for work or college. However, the center serves the needs of the blind and visually impaired of all ages. Other programs and services provided by the center include van transportation, healthy living programs, Braille, computer classes and more.

For services or to purchase tickets for the event contact Terri Thomas at the Vision Resource Center at 910-483-2719 or Cory Worrell, Marketing Director/Refractive Coordinator and Cape Fear Eye Associates, PA at 910-672-5017.

Photo: Michael Macias performing with Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra Maestro Fouad Fakhouri.

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