FuelFest, a fundraiser organized by the non-profit organization Hearsee Mobility, was held at the Red Cliffs Mall grounds in St. George, Utah this past weekend. The event successfully raised funds to install a blind-accessible indoor navigation system and environment description service at the Utah Arts Academy in St. George.

FuelFest featured a car show with 80 vintage and luxury cars, nine eating competitions featuring local restaurant fare, raffles, and music. Ten blind individuals shared their personal stories, sang original songs, and performed monologues, offering insight into the experiences of the blind community.

Over 500 guests attended the event, many of whom were exposed to the challenges and beauties of blindness for the first time. One attendee shared, "I began to cry after hearing the announcer describe the setting of the eating competition for the blind participants. For the first time, I realized everything I take for granted through my eyesight. Hearing their stories was incredibly powerful, and I'm grateful tolearn more about them."

Hearsee Mobility founder James Bloomfield and Director of Development, Susannah O’Brien, also took to the eating competition stage to discuss the needs of Utah’s blind community and their five-year partnership with the blind population to design their accessibility tech. “The blind population designed this system themselves.” says Bloomfield, who has been with the project since the very beginning. “We are proud to bring their vision to life and add to the innovation and support tech coming out of Utah.”

Utah is home to 1,100 legally blind youth, and Utah Arts Academy is already serving two of them. Hearsee Mobility's goal is to make the school more accessible with their indoor navigation system and environment description service, motivating more of Washington County's 42 blind youth to join the program. By providing blind-accessible technology, the aim is to help these students develop social skills, receive education, and better understand and express their unique emotions, while allowing their peers and educators the opportunity to become more supportive and respectful of the blind community.

FuelFest's sponsors include:

  • CCBank
  • Camping World of St. George
  • Jones Paint & Glass
  • Snow, Jensen & Reece
  • InfoWest Internet 
  • Tech Ridge Development 
  • TDS Communications 
  • Wade Auto Group
  • SpeedTech Performance 
  • Safari Hospitality Group 

For more information about Hearsee Mobility and their initiatives, visit www.hearseemobility.org.

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