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Bosma Visionary raises awareness, funds through fundraiser gala

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Bosma Visionary Opportunities Foundation is gearing up for its signature event to support Hoosiers who are blind or visually impaired. Tammy Butler Robinson, chief executive officer of Engaging Solutions LLC, and Deana Haworth, chief executive officer of Hirons, will serve as co-chairs for the Dining in the Dark fundraiser gala Sept. 16. The event will be held at the JW Marriott, 10 S. West St. 

As co-chairs, Butler Robinson and Haworth support event planning and lead fundraising.
Both co-chairs have been personally impacted by blindness and vision loss. Haworth’s grandfather lost his eye in a near-fatal hunting accident when he was a teenager. Butler Robinson’s 21 year-old son, Myles, was born blind and has attended several programs through Bosma, she said. The access to resources Bosma provides is important for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, as these can help them improve mobility and live independently, she said.

“Hoosiers that have been diagnosed with vision loss often come to Bosma in search of hope and independence,” Butler Robinson said. “And then after they go through their rehabilitative programming — that’s where Myles spent some of his time for visionary solutions — and that helps to equip them with the skills that they need to live independently.” 

During dinner, the lights are turned off and everyone dons a sleep shade for a brief and “enlightening” experience, Butler Robinson said. Instructors will help guide guests during the course of the meal. 

“Sometimes you don’t know what it’s like until you walk in someone else’s shoes or, in this case, experience someone else’s eyes. I think it makes it real for people of, ‘Man, that is what that person is experiencing in their day-to-day life?’ Here, it’s 15 to 30 minutes of time. It’s what people do from the time they wake up until they go to bed at night. And it’s what they’ve done 365, 24/7,” Butler Robinson said. “I think it’s important for people to get that vantage point and then hopefully realize why organizations like Bosma Visionary Opportunities are so important for changing lives and creating opportunities for tomorrow.” 

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The night’s theme is centered around the “Wizard of Oz, Emerald City.” Guests are encouraged to “embrace any and all ‘Wizard of Oz’ themes.” 

Butler Robinson said she hopes the event inspires people to help raise funds critical to Bosma’s resources and mission. Funds raised will support Bosma’s rehabilitation programs. More than 157,000 people living in Indiana report blindness or severe difficulty seeing even with glasses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Navigating vision loss can present serious challenges and create significant barriers to employment.

Each year, Bosma teaches hundreds of blind or visually impaired Hoosiers independent living and employment skills and gives them an opportunity to pursue their dreams. Over the past three years, more than 70% of its clients were employed or pursuing higher education after completing Bosma’s rehabilitation program, according to their website. 
The event is wheelchair accessible. Materials will be provided in large print and braille and a sign language interpreter will be available upon request. 

“This event reminds us that people with vision loss face significant barriers,” Haworth said. “But Bosma serves as a lifeline for those in need of help. Dining in the Dark provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness for such an important cause.”

The event will feature an auction, guest speaker, dinner, live band, dancing and more. A VIP Reception will begin at 5:15 p.m., followed by a General Reception at 5:30 p.m. The program will begin at 7 p.m.  To learn more about Bosma, visit bosma.org/foundation.

Contact staff writer Jayden Kennett at 317-762-7847 or by email jaydenk@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @JournoJay.

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