Imagine not being able to not see the food that you’re eating. That’s the reality for nearly 15,000 North Dakotans who have a visual impairment, according to the 2019 U.S. Census.

Minot’s fifth Dining in the Dark event was held Thursday and fundraises for two local organizations that enhance life for individuals with vision loss.

Trampes Brown lost his vision 10 years ago.

He says this event brings awareness to individuals with visual impairments.

“We are not invisible, even though sometimes it feels that way. We do have members across the state and sometimes people aren’t even aware that there are people within their community that have sight loss,” Brown said.

At the Dining in the Dark event, guests enjoyed a three-course meal — all while blindfolded.

Tom Probst has been a Lions Club member for over 50 years and he’s attended every event. He says his relative who is blind helped him figure it out.

“Ethan, who is our great-grandson, grand nephew, was at the table and I’ve never watched him eat before. and then he explained to me you put the plate and how you do it by the clock and the beef’s at 3 o’clock,” Probst said.

Table hosts are the only people who don’t wear blindfolds. Hosts have visual impairments and help people enjoy their meals.

Host Lexee Steffan attended the event for the first time and says she hopes people gain knowledge about life with vision loss.

“Being visually impaired or blind isn’t a bad thing. It takes some work to do things but it comes naturally. It’s not something to be pitied, it’s something to just deal with,” Steffan said.

She says her biggest challenge is not being able to drive.

“I really like to be independent so it kinda is not fun to have to rely on people to go some place,” Steffan said.

Her advice for others with visual impairments?

“Just try to be independent and ask for help if you need it,” she said.

Proceeds from Dining in the Dark go to the North Dakota Association for the Blind and the Minot Lions Club.