Beyond Blind Institute Event Aims To Raise Money For LaPlaza Performing Arts Theatre And Cultural Center In Palm Beach Gardens


Provident Jewelry in Jupiter welcomed a dynamic crowd of supporters to an evening of cocktails, passed hors d’oeuvres and upbeat music on May 5.

The Beyond Blind Institute—a nonprofit with a mission to empower the visually impaired and enable them to enjoy and experience life without boundaries—kicked off its “Shine for Blindness” fundraising campaign to build a facility offering activities in arts and culture and health and wellness.

The plan is for the facility, to be named LaPlaza Performing Arts Theatre and Cultural Center, to rise in the old Loehmann’s Plaza in Palm Beach Gardens.

“We change lives together,” Joyce Gugel, founder and president of the institute, told the crowd prior to introducing two members who celebrated their birthdays together by skydiving.

Gugel then showed a video of John Crossley and Nicole Ledbetter, who both lost their sight as adults, plunging from a plane.

“I am legally blind,” Gugel said. “It has not stopped me from anything.”

The 63-year-old, whose Stargardt disease—a form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration—kicked in at age 22, established the institute to provide fun and productive opportunities to a population that may all too often miss out on them.

Steve Satin, a personal fitness instructor, joined the gathering to learn about the institute’s “Bodies Beyond Blindness” program, which consists of cardio, spin, yoga and other kinds of exercise, as well as nutritional counseling.

“We have this proprietary strength-training methodology, and they think it would be great for us to work with the members of the institute,” Satin said.

The event culminated with an uplifting performance by recording artist Josh Moreland, who sang “Higher” and “Inspire Me” off his “So Good To Be You” CD.

Gugel then took guests on a “blind journey,” asking them to close their eyes as she spoke about what it would be like if they suddenly lost their sight.

View some photos from the event, below: 

Recording artist Josh Moreland performs at the Beyond Blind Institute event at Provident Jewelry as Nicole Ledbetter and John Crossley, members of the institute, listen in.

Electric violinist Timothee Lovelock provided upbeat entertainment.

Beyond Blind Institute volunteers Beth Beson, Beth Rockoff, Lily Kemper and Nicole Waggener

Beyond Blind Institute volunteer Vicki Goldberg, husband Scott Goldberg, a member of the institute, Makco Joseph, also a member of the institute, and volunteer Joel Zanville​

Bruce Benson and Susan Benson, director of fitness at the Beyond Blind Institute

Beyond Blind Institute founder Joyce Gugel with Jupiter Magazine publisher Donna Lewis

Lara Pansoli, director of public relations at Provident Jewelry, and guest Margot Brozost


(Photos by Amy Woods)

Jupiter Magazine is a sponsor of this event. 

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