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‘Love Is Blind’ at Valentine’s Day fundraising dinner event

February 6th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

By Cathy Morgan

SALT LAKE CITY—With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, why not get some experience of what it’s like to be blind? The Utah Federation of the Blind holds its new annual fundraiser, “Love Is Blind,” on Friday at the Red Lion Hotel in Salt Lake City, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $50 per person. The event will include dancing, an auction and a blindfolded dinner for sighted people willing to sample what life is like for the blind.

Jalayne Engberg, who is helping to run the event, has high hopes that this activity will help raise funds for Utah Federation for the Blind events throughout the year.

The UFB conducts summer youth camps and job programs to give young blind students experiences they will not be able to obtain by just going through high school. The program UWIN, for example, provides six weeks of learning how to live in a house with other students, learn how to navigate bus routes and acquire job skills, she said.

“We try to teach students etiquette and dating skills,” Engberg said. “We are trying to fill in the gap of needed areas that they don’t get on an academic level.”

Karlee Peterson, a senior at American Fork High School, said UFB programs have helped her with communication skills as well as learning to keep track of daily things. One of the hardest things a young blind person has to deal with is realizing they won’t be able to drive at the age of 16, she said.

“When me and my friends were all turning 16, I was the only one who couldn’t get my license, which was really hard,” Peterson said. Now she has the skills to use public transportation. Independence for the blind is a main goal of the Utah and national organizations for the blind.

Sports camp is aimed at providing people the knowledge that there are ways to adapt sports so even the blind can participate. This week-long program gets people involved with learning to wrestle, swim, play goalball and try out some judo.

“The camps helped me learn all sorts of things I can do for fun,” said USU student Quinn Price, a longtime UFB member.

Fundraising during the current economic downturn has been difficult, Engberg said. “We haven’t grown as much as we envisioned,” she said, but she has high hopes for the “Love Is Blind” fundraising dinner and dance. Already, she said, more than 80 people have signed up for Friday‘s event.

For tickets or information about the event and other Utah Federation for the Blind programs, go to the UFB website.



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