Innovative Researcher Will Speak at 3rd Annual 'Dinner in the Dark' Event

Oct. 22 fundraiser for Sofia Sees Hope to feature Jean Bennett M.D., Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania 

Mystic, CT – Dr. Jean Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., a groundbreaking researcher from the University of Pennsylvania who is working to cure blindness, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Dinner in the Dark event to benefit local charity Sofia Sees Hope.
In its first two years, Dinner in the Dark raised more than $130,000 to fund research into rare retinal diseases. With the third dinner coming up Oct. 22, the charity expects to hit the $200,000 mark. Although the event is sold out, the organization has opened a wait list. Additional seats will be released at as they become available.
Sofia Sees Hope is a Ledyard-based patient advocacy organization dedicated to raising awareness, providing patient support and raising funds for diagnosis, treatments and cures for blindness caused by rare inherited retinal disease. Its signature event, Dinner in the Dark, raises money for research while guests come to understand the organization’s mission through a dynamic culinary adventure.
The 3rd annual Dinner in the Dark is at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa.  The evening includes a live auction, music by The Cartells and a short talk by guest speaker, Jean Bennett, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Bennett is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who is famous for her research into the molecular genetics of inherited retinal dystrophies.  She uses this knowledge to develop approaches for treatment of these diseases and reversal of sensory loss. Bennett was one of the first investigators to use viral vectors to deliver transgenes to specific cells in the retina. She also led the first team to demonstrate preclinical proof-of-principle of ocular gene therapy.
Lisa Carberg of A/Z Construction and Michael O’Farrell of L+M Hospital are the hosts for the Dinner in the Dark. The cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m.  
Event sponsors include:
Mohegan Sun
Eyecare Expressions
In Motion Brand Strategies
Spark Therapeutics
Gales Ferry Medical
L+M Hospital
Mystic Aquarium
Seaport Construction
A/Z Corporation
Berry Land Clearing
Bob Valenti Auto Mall
Pine Point School
Andersen Oil Co.
Charter Oak Credit Union
Anita Hwang M.D.
Groton Eye Center
Groton Utilities
Hoyt, Filippetti & Malaghan, LLC
Michelle and Tom Marra
New England Retina Associates
Rosen Consulting, LLC
Shipman & Goodwin, LLP
The William W. Backus Hospital
The Williams School
Universal Package Store
 In Kind Sponsors:
Angelini Wine, Ltd.
Design Intervention
Eighty Six Media
Foxwoods Resort & Casino
Le Francois Floral & Gifts
Mary Jo Shultis Photography
The Westerly Sun

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About Sofia Sees Hope
Sofia Sees Hope is a 501c3 co-founded in 2014 by Laura Manfre, whose daughter has Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA).  The mission of Sofia Sees Hope is to transform the lives of those affected by blindness caused by rare inherited retinal disease. The nonprofit organization generates awareness, hope and support for affected families, and raises funds for diagnosis, treatment, and cures. /