Looking Back on the 2023 Through the Looking Glass Gala
By: Seth Johnson
On Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, the Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation (IBCF) hosted another sold-out Through the Looking Glass Gala at the Renaissance Indianapolis Hotel in Carmel.
A collage of photos from the 2023 Gala taken by Grant Michael Photography.
Having become an annual tradition for so many of IBCF’s dedicated supporters, the event’s 11th installment was yet again a red-carpet affair, with elegantly dressed guests showing up in masquerade-style masks to coincide with the event’s masquerade theme.
Prior to the event’s program, guests took part in the Bling Ring and Football Toss games, along with the much-loved Bourbon Pull, while mingling at the cocktail reception. During this time, guests were also invited to check out all the various silent auction packages on hand, which were strategically displayed on tables throughout the Gala reception area.
When asked during the reception what he enjoys most about the Gala each year, IBCF board president Michael Parent said it all comes back to community.
“My favorite part is seeing our community of supporters, building relationships, and raising funds for a collective goal — while also having a lot of fun,” Parent said.
IBCF board members and staff pose for a photo with Christine Ha.
Following the event’s cocktail reception, Gala attendees gathered in the hotel ballroom for the 2023 program and live auction, while enjoying a three-course meal. Following remarks from IBCF executive director Laura Alvarado, Gala committee chair Lindsey Jordan, and IBCF board president Michael Parent, the audience was treated to an exceptional keynote speech from MasterChef Season 3 winner Christine Ha. As she shared in an Instagram post following the Gala, Ha’s journey as a chef who’s blind spoke to the importance of the 2023 Gala Fund-A-Need, which raised financial support for an adaptive culinary kitchen and arts program for students at Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
“Cooking for oneself is a step towards independence,” said Ha in her Instagram post. “That’s why I was insistent on learning how to cook after losing my vision. It’s empowering and a confidence booster.”
Following Christine Ha’s keynote speech, IBCF board member Kathy Nimmer introduced a video from 12 Stars Media detailing the adaptive culinary arts program, which includes support from community partners Ivy Tech Community College and Culinary Arts School and the Cunningham Restaurant Group.
“When I got exposed to the School for the Blind by Laura and Lindsey and heard about everything that they do, it really just seemed like a natural [fit] for us to get involved,” said Cunningham Restaurant Group chief operating officer Mike O’Donnell in the video. “What we intend to do is bring some students here to the research and development arm of our company and teach them how to make a snack or maybe take their careers into the restaurant business.” Starting in December, Cunningham Restaurant Group chefs will work with ISBVI high school students once a month, building foundational culinary skills.
Through the video, Gala attendees were also introduced to Chef Jody May, the first individual who is blind to graduate from Ivy Tech’s culinary arts program. Along with Ivy Tech hospitality chair Chef Jeff Bricker and ISBVI Student Training and Employment Program director Judy Reynolds, May will help build a curriculum for ISBVI students to learn the ins and outs of cooking.
As part of the Fund-A-Need, Gala attendees helped fund an accessible culinary classroom designed by the Reitano Design Group with the input of IBCF and ISBVI leadership. This accessible kitchen has been designed to travel back to the College Avenue campus after a temporary relocation to IPS School 94. The Colocation construction will begin summer 2024, building a state-of-the-art campus that will house the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Indiana School for the Deaf on one campus.
Thank you to all the 2023 Through the Looking Glass Gala attendees and sponsors who helped make the 2023 Gala a record-breaking revenue year.