Every year the department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the University of Alberta hosts the Out of Sight fundraiser gala to raise awareness and funds for research to diagnose, detect and treat inherited forms of vision loss. I work in the eye department of Alberta Health Services, and so it is a big deal to us. This year I was lucky enough to win a ticket to the event, and so I thought I would let you all know how it went.
At $200 a ticket you expect great evening, and I was definitely not disappointed. This is the fourth year for the fundraiser, and this year it was held at the Fantasyland hotel in the West Edmonton Mall. It is a dressy event so I was excited to get a little dolled up. It always nice to see colleagues outside of work especially when everyone is looking so good. For the event I choose a black dress with neon green accents and went with straight loose hair, and platform Mary-Jane wedges.
This was the first time I was at the fantasyland hotel and I must say that I was impressed. The event was being held in a large banquet room which looked very nicely decorated. When I arrived they took my ticket stub for a door prize draw (spoiler alert: I didn’t win…) As I entered the room I was offered a glass of red punch (which was tasty). I was sitting at table #1 with coworkers and the table was very nicely set. Someone had bought a table and donated it to the eye clinic, and that is how I came to have a ticket. As people were arriving I took a minute to go look around at the items for the silent auction. They had some pretty awesome things that you could bid on including sunglasses, hockey tickets, paintings, as well as giant baskets filled with all kinds of goodies. I actually put a few bids in before we were asked to take our seats.
The interesting thing about this event is that at your seat in front of you as you sit down you have a sleep mask with Out of Sight printed on it. No we weren’t going to be taking a group nap, it is actually so that everyone can wear it while they eat. So in the already dim lighting of room we all put our face masks on to better appreciate the challenges of living without sight. Let me tell you right now it is hard!!
The first thing the waiters took out for us was a bread basket. Something as easy as reaching for your butter knife all of a sudden becomes a daunting task! Where did that thing go anyway? So after you accomplish the task of buttering your roll you start to think I can do this. That’s when the first course comes out. For us it was soup, truffle scented cream of cauliflower soup to be exact, and when I could actually get it in my mouth it was delicious. This course was by far the easiest to eat, and when I finished my bowl of soup and took off the mask it was really interesting to watch everyone else at the table trying to eat with their masks on. Everyone’s noses were almost touching their bowls they were so close.
The second course was cucumber wrapped greens, roasted tomatoes and creamy ranch dressing. Getting the dressing on to the salad was the first obstacle. I was sure that I had taken so much dressing but in all actuality my salad ended up being pretty dry. This was a tough salad to eat with your eyes open let alone with a blindfold on. It was really tasty though, and one thing that I found interesting was that I appreciated the different textures in the salad a lot more because I couldn’t see. When I would go from the crunch of the cucumber to the soft tomatoes or orange slices it was a completely different sensation. Again it was actually quite funny to watch others trying to eat their salads. They would think that they had a lot of food on their fork but time after time they would bring the fork to their mouths and it would be empty. Or people wouldn’t realize that the salad was wrapped together and would stick their fork in it and try to put the entire thing in their mouth in one shot. It was pretty messy to eat this way. I had lots of stuff all over my face and pieces of lettuce in my lap when I took my mask off.
The entrée was a Grilled Alberta Beef Tenderloin topped with grainy Dijon and rich Merlot jus with roasted fingerling potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Let me tell you that you take so many things for granted when it comes to your vision. So we put our masks on again and man is it difficult to cut a steak when you cannot see it. You end up with giant pieces or the smallest little bite. You quickly put your memory to good use trying to remember which side you put your wine on or which direction is your knife facing. Many a time people at my table were laughing at me because I was trying to cut the meat with the dull side of my knife. This course was excellent! The meat was cooked brilliantly and all the veggies on the plate were amazing. Again everyone was getting their noses right up to the plate. A lot of people were using their fingers more than they would otherwise. I guess it was lucky that we had blindfolds on because we were not being the most elegant of eaters. I almost got carrots up my nose a few times, but I was able to get through the majority of the meal before I gave up. We tried to be really good, and not cheat knowing that there were people in the room who didn’t need the masks and were visually impaired all the time who couldn’t cheat.
Following the entrée there was some time to wander and socialize. It was nice to talk to coworkers and friends and see how they were experiencing the meal. At this time there were a few people who got up to speak. One man was visually impaired and talked about his experience losing his vision, and there were a couple of doctors who got up to speak about their research and experience in the field. After that the dessert was served. Wow this dessert was amazing. At this point most of our table didn’t put their masks back on (it gets really warm when you are wearing one for so long) and so we enjoyed our white and dark chocolate mousse with whip cream, dark chocolate sauce and fruits served in a chocolate cup. It was so good just thinking about it right now is making my mouth water.
That concluded the meal portion of the evening, and for the rest of the night we mingled and listened to the jazz music being played. The silent auction finished around 10pm and guess what I actually won an item! It was a chapters basket, and if you have visited my other blog bibliophilesisters you know that I love books! It was valued at $250 and I won it for $100. I can’t believe that no one outbid me!! (I might make a short video and show you all the goodies I got in the basket)
This was an amazing experience and I would love to go again in the future. It was definitely interesting and very challenging to eat without your sight, but it really puts things into perspective. This is what people deal with every day. Everyone at my table said that they would much rather lose their hearing than their vision, but I know that both come with their own sets of challenges. It was a great evening filled with friends, food and fun. We learned some things and we were able to raise some money for a fantastic cause. It was a night to remember though much of it went unseen.
Be Healthy, Be Active, Be Happy