Blindfold event continues to shine a light on blind children
For 10 years, and over 10 events, this dining experience has captured the imagination of restauranteurs and foodies across the globe through its unique, fun format.
This year’s celebration dinner is already a sell-out – a testament to our work, ethics and dedication to children who are blind.
The structure of the event is simple. The National Wine Centre takes you on a mystery three-course journey of intriguing pairings, innovative textures and unknown flavour combinations to ignite the senses. Each table is hosted by a prominent local South Australian winemaker, who expertly pair their unique wines to each course. You're invited to close your eyes (behind the blindfold), open your mind and let your tastebuds take you on a journey through a gastronomic wonderland.
“One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was when someone at a Dinner in the Dark was getting close to finishing eating, but we kept slipping more food on to his plate,” says the 2014 inaugural Can:Do Group event manager Rebecca Young. “His partner said she’d finished, and so he couldn’t work out why he couldn’t finish too.”
Current Fundraising Lead for Can:Do 4Kids, Lauren Pike says, “This is not your average fundraiser. This is an exclusive dining experience, where your most dominant sense will be taken away from you. It’s a world where your notion of taste and smell are tested. And it’s all for a good cause.”
Lauren says, “the National Wine Centre’s head chef ability to incorporate different textures and tastes to enhance the experience of eating blindfolded – and to build a menu that really complements our wonderful South Australian wines – has been a highlight for me over the years.”
Established in 2014, the Dinner in the Dark event raises funds for vital services to support South Australian children who are blind or deaf.
Brand & Development Manager for the Can:Do Group, Rebecca Kutcher says, “With over 145 years of experience supporting children who are blind, deaf, or have developmental needs, Can:Do 4Kids are South Australia’s most knowledgeable and trusted helping hand for eyes and ears. Up to 10,000 South Australian kids face every day with hearing and vision challenges. That’s why Can:Do 4Kids formed in 1874; to work with families to help their children communicate better, connect easier and live their best lives.”
Lauren continues, “This year’s Dinner in the Dark theme is Opulence; which means it is sure to be a night to remember as an evening of opulence is also visually pleasing – a perfect setting for the night being one of celebration; a celebration of 10 years supporting children who have vision challenges or are blind.”
“Over the years many special guest speakers have taken to the stage to share humorous insights and brave tactics as well as their future goals. One of the most memorable speeches from recent years was from Antony Abbracciavento, as his speech development was a challenge initially for him, because he couldn’t see how other people’s mouths formed to make speech patterns and sounds which made it difficult for him to learn those skills himself. However, despite these initial challenges, with the help of Can:Do 4Kids, Antony is a confident 17-year-old with a potential career in politics (who we declared could be a next Prime Minister!)”
This year's speech will be delivered by Adeline Roe, bringing us full circle. In 2014 it was Adeline’s parents Amy and Adrian Roe who shared their story.
Adeline says, “I will be following in the footsteps of the woman I admire most, my mum, who 10 years ago spoke at the inaugural dinner in the dark. We both feel a strong connection with Can:Do 4Kids because they have given me so much over the past 15 years and helped me become the woman I am today.”
Lauren says, “Over the years we have heard so many inspiring speakers, all sharing their journeys with us. Some have brought us to tears. Literally.”
Lauren refers to stories shared from Can:Do 4Kids clients such as in 2021 Amy Eastham was your typical twenty-year-old, said people’s attitudes are slowly improving but there is still a long way to go in terms of awareness and acceptance. Ethan Cook, who in 2015 shared (via his parents) that his albinism meant severe vision impairment and an extreme sensitivity to light made the initial stages of learning a very frustrating time but Can:Do 4Kids where there to support and guide. Similarly, in 2016 Hamish McGregor who is also classified as legally blind, shared a similar story through an emotional video with his mum, Ally. In 2019 we heard of Thomas Cleghorn’s condition which meant that his sight would get worse over time. He has no peripheral vision, bad night vision, colour blindness, and it’s a struggle to see things from long distances.
With Cam Sanders story in 2020, Jasmine (Cam’s mum) brought home the isolated nature of living in Aldinga, as it was a three and a half hour round trip to access support like early intervention and orientation and mobility training. She said at the time, “He suffers because he can’t visually understand what people are trying to convey with body language. If there were groups that he could attend nearby, that would just open so much more social interaction.” **We have since opened the Can:Do 4Kids Southern facility within Colonnades at Noarlunga.
In 2017 we heard of Jessye Campbell’s early battle with cancer and her hopes and dreams for the future, however not all stories end in happiness, and it is with sadness that we acknowledge Jessye’s passing. Along with Kieran Modra who was our guest speaker in 2018, an amazing South Australian who rose to the top of his field as a five-time Paralympic gold medalist.
The stories will continue, as our work continues.
Guests will get to test their taste buds at the Dinner supporting Can:Do 4Kids