Guests at Dinner in the Dark Encouraged to “Show Their Stripes”

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Dinner in the Dark

This year at the sixth Dinner in the Dark on Saturday, October 19, at the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa, guests are being encouraged to “show their stripes!”

Recognizing that the international symbol of rare disease is the zebra, organizers of the annual culinary adventure are encouraging attendees to don stripes in some fashion.

“We thought it would be fun to let our guests know that the zebra represents rare disease,” said Laura Manfre, co-founder of Sofia Sees Hope and Chair of its Board of Directors. “In the late 1940s, Dr. Theodore Woodward, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told his students that in making a diagnosis, ‘When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras.’ So the zebra evolved into the symbol for rare disease. Since we’re dedicated to supporting our rare disease community, we want to make sure the zebras aren’t overlooked!”  

Dinner in the Dark is the major annual fundraiser for Sofia Sees Hope, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information and support to individuals and families affected by Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), a rare inherited retinal disease that causes blindness. The organization also raises funds to provide free access to patients for genetic testing, and for research to support diagnosis and treatments. 

The event is taking that zebra theme even further this year, as its annual Majestic Box fundraiser sponsored by Simply Majestic jewelers in Mystic features a zebra-inspired custom-made pendant. 99 of the 100 Majestic Boxes available for purchase contain a white pendant with black stripes. The 100th box contains a black pendant with white stripes. The recipient of that pendant wins a spectacular his-and-hers grand prize from Simply Majestic valued at $3,000. 

“We are longtime supporters of Sofia Sees Hope,” said Simply Majestic co-owner Susette Tibus. “When Laura told us about the zebra being the symbol of rare disease, we were thrilled to come up with this exclusive design.” 

Also new this year is Outer Light Brewing Co. beer flights paired with the three-course gourmet meal, in addition to Angelini Wines’ flights of wine. Guests can choose their preference when they purchase tickets.

Dinner in the Dark begins with a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 19, at the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa. Tickets are $150 per person or $2,020 for a 20/20 Vision Table Patron (table of 10 with preferred seating).

This dinner is a true culinary adventure — guests dine blindfolded and the menu is a secret! This fundraising dinner helps people connect with the organization’s mission through a dynamic and fun culinary experience.

The evening also includes a live auction with exciting travel packages, one-of-a-kind experiences and donations from incredible local artisans, supporters, and businesses. 

The festivities conclude with live music and dancing. Be prepared for a unique menu, fine wines, and sensory adventure! Tickets are available here.

Event sponsors: 

Renewal By Andersen

Simply Majestic

Window of Giving

Editas Medicine

Spark Therapeutics

Meira GTx

Lawrence + Memorial Hospital

Sanofi Genzyme

Dominion Resources Services, Inc.

Hoyt, Filippetti & Malaghan, LLC

Mohegan Tribe

Mystic Aquarium

Groton Utilities

Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law

The Remote Coxswain

Valenti Auto Mall


Andersen Oil Company

Eye Specialists

Eyecare Expressions 

Groton Dental Group

Groton Eye Center

The Law Office of P. Michael Lahan

Melissa Allen Pilates & Movement

The William W. Backus Hospital

Universal Package, LLC

In-kind sponsors:

ABC PhotoLab

Angelini Wine

Design Intervention, LLC

Eight Six Media

Foxwoods Resort & Casino

Jealous Monk

Le Francois Floral & Gifts

Mary-Jo Shultis Photography

Outer Light Brewing Company

About Sofia Sees Hope

Sofia Sees Hope was founded in 2014 by Laura Manfre and Charles Priebe, whose daughter Sofia has Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). This rare genetic retinal condition is characterized by severe vision loss at birth and leads to total blindness.

The mission of Sofia Sees Hope is to transform the lives of those affected by blindness caused by rare inherited eye disease. The nonprofit organization generates awareness, raises funds for research, and provides outreach, support and education to those affected by LCA and other rare retinal diseases.

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