“It gives you a new appreciation for what people who can’t see go through,” Jason Wilson said.
Wilson and his wife, Yoli, joined about 35 other people for the first Dining in the Dark in Waynesboro. The fundraiser at Christine’s Cafe benefited the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation.
Diners kept their eyes covered from the moment they walked in the restaurant. They ate a three-course meal without knowing what was on their plates or even if anything was left there.
“They said, ‘Are you done with your salad?, and I said, ‘I don’t know, am I?’” Wilson said.
Glenn and Melissa Russ of Waynesboro organized the fundraiser for the foundation that focuses on research and connecting families like theirs. The Russes’ 14-year-old daughter, Teagan, has a gene mutation that causes blindness.
Teagan selected trinkets and phrases in Braille to engage diners’ other senses at their tables.
“It’s a lot bigger (turnout) than I thought it’d be. I hope people enjoy it, and I want to see what they think of it,” she said.
Todd and Lisa Drust of Hagerstown won tickets for the event through a radio contest.
“I’m anxious to find out what it was,” Todd Drust said after he finished his main entree.
Both talked highly of the event, saying it was fun and educational.
“I’d definitely recommend it,” Lisa Drust said. “It’s a good experience for a good cause, and it makes you aware of what people are going through.”
Judy Brown of Falling Waters, W.Va., shared her anticipation before the meal started.
“It sounds exciting. It’s something I’ve seen on TV and never tried before,” she said.
Brown ended up ditching her utensils and eating with her hands.
“It is totally off the wall,” she said after finishing her second course.
“I used my utensils for everything but my meat,” said Betty Hessong, of Greencastle, Pa.
Chris Manilla and his wife, Lori, ate at Christine’s Cafe for the first time Saturday. They saw a flier for Dining in the Dark and decided to return to the restaurant on West Main Street.
“I thought it sounded like a fun way to help a worthwhile cause,” Lori Manilla said.
A doctor, Chris Manilla said he hoped the experience improved his empathy and understanding in his professional life.
The Manillas sat at a table with the Wilsons, whom they had never met. They remarked that being blindfolded helped them focus on conversation and togetherness, rather than distractions like cellphones.
The Russes said they hope to make Dining in the Dark a yearly event.