LongIsland.com

Long Island's Blind Wine Tasting Gala(Sept 30)

Written by wineries  |  29. September 2002

Major Wine & Food Event SEPTEMBER 30, 2002 At The Crest Hollow Country Club, Woodbury, New York By Christopher J. Davies I met Mitch Shapiro on the telephone six month's ago. He's a bright and upbeat fellow who will entertain you with his wit and Woody Allenish humor. He invited me to pitch in as a volunteer for the Blind Wine Tasting Gala. After learning about the cause, to fight Blindness, I could not say no. But more enticing, is the "Mitch factor". It grows on you after meeting the man and his supporters in person. How can someone in his shoes, suffering a debilitating disease that affects your vision and hearing, be so strong, you will ask yourself. This man is like the "energizer bunny" of positive attitude. And let me tell you, his attitude is contagious, because over 150 Long Islander's are pitching in to help make this year's gala a success. This year's event has all the ingredients for becoming a major success, over 270 wines, spirits and micro-brews. Plenty of spectacular food will be served by the Crest Hollow's highly capable chef. There will be many great products, wines and services auctioned during the evening. Tickets to this great event are still available for purchase online or on the day of event at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. Tickets cost only $60 per person, which is a great value compared to similar fundraisers on Long Island. So come on down to the Crest Hollow at 5 pm for four hours of unbelievable wines, food and fun! And last but least, think about how you might become a volunteer for next years Blind Wine Tasting Gala. For information visit the web site below. Just like fine wine, this event gets better with age! CD INNOVATION IS KEY INGREDIENT OF "BLIND" WINE TASTING GALA Armed with his hearing aid, guide dog, and a disarming smile, Mitch Shapiro may not seem like a formidable presence, but he has accomplished something many others would pay dearly to do -he has mobilized an impressive and growing volunteer army of Long Island's top business people and used their help to create one of the fastest growing charity galas in the region, the Blind Wine Tasting Gala. Admittedly always looking for new ideas and new ways to make his efforts at fundraising to benefit the Foundation Fighting Blindness even more profound and more productive, Mitch, in full stride with his army, has rallied some of those ideas to reality during the seven years he has produced the gala. In fact, a Blind Wine Tasting Gala was, in and of itself, a novel idea when it was first suggested to Mitch by a former associate (a wine distributor ) with whom Mitch's family, which once owned both The Swan Club and The Royal Lancer, did business. Reaching out to new contacts he had made since the sale of the family's restaurants, Mitch found a handful of volunteers from Long Island's business community who helped create a fundraiser that attracted 267 people and earned $41,000 for the FFB. This year's Virtual Journal is the latest venture into new terrain. The journal offers a web-based way that sponsors can broadcast their support for the event with a link to their own web page, at a variety of rates. Sponsor ads remain on the web for a whole year, explained Mitch, and they [sponsors] can change the text anytime they'd like to reflect any message. it's a great way for even the smallest concern to have a presence on the Internet. Over the past several years Mitch has become a familiar, positive presence at Long Island's many business and networking groups. Given the opportunity, Mitch will pass around blindfolds and ask those in the room to put them on and attempt to perform a simple task, or he will hand out earplugs and challenge people to hear as he hears. Sometimes, he hands out both blindfolds and earplugs in an attempt to replicate, for one minute in people's lives, how he and others afflicted with Ushers Syndrome live out their days. Always prepared with an amusing anecdote or play on words, those who know him are usually not surprised by his whimsical comments about his own disabilities or his announcements of what's coming next. But, last year surprise reigned when Mitch announced that he was holding his first "Blind" Tug A Jet Challenge, an opportunity for ten teams of six (three men and three women required) to compete in pulling a 15,000-pound Lear Jet one hundred feet in the fastest time while blindfolded. The second annual Tug A Jet Challenge takes place this year on August 14th from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Air East Hangar at Republic Airport in Farmingdale. Mitch is not shy about speaking out about Usher's syndrome, the genetic disease that has gradually, but certainly, been robbing him of his sight and hearing, or about offering his message of positive thinking. This year, more than 100 volunteers from all over Long Island are working to make the 7th "Blind"Wine Tasting Gala possible. More than 1,000 attendees are expected. To date, the now annual "Blind" Wine Tasting fundraiser has raised more than $500,000 for the FFB. While the money goes to support the efforts of national organization, the BWTG is a regional event and other chapters of FFB around the country have begun to take notice of its success. "I've been asked to speak with several chapters, says Mitch, yo help them get their own"Blind" Wine Tasting established. The next "Blind" Wine Tasting Gala takes place September 30 at Crest Hollow Country Club from 5 to 9 PM. To purchase tickets for the "Blind"Wine Tasting or to sponsor a page in the Virtual Journal, call 631-366-3461 or visit their web site.

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