When Wake Forest University students thought of blind dating, they may have thought of Chris Pine. Now, they think of Ted Middleton and Dating Deacons.
In January of 2020, Wake Forest junior Ted Middleton sought to change the stigma around blind dating from fear and uncertainty to enjoyment and charity with the creation of Dating Deacons, a non-profit organization benefiting OneSight. Dating Deacons’ slogan, “Blind Dating Benefitting the Blind,” is derived from OneSight’s mission to offer free vision care worldwide. With over $1,400 raised for OneSight to date, Dating Deacons has provided approximately 56 eye exams and pairs of glasses to those most in need.
I first became aware of Dating Deacons in January after Ted pitched his idea with great enthusiasm to a few students in ZSR Library. While I believed the idea to be an exciting one, I wondered if students would sign up for a blind dating experience or if an established organization such as OneSight would put faith in the capabilities of a college sophomore.
I was wrong. To date, Dating Deacons has become a campus-wide phenomenon with over 450 unique registrations and 250 blind dates, 52.6% of students scheduling a second date, and six established relationships.
“I love Dating Deacons because it is an opportunity to meet new people and also give back,” said Dating Deacons Head Matchmaker Anna Lummus. “I am so thankful for Dating Deacons because I met my boyfriend through it!”
Despite Dating Deacons’ success, there are still those who are skeptical. The leading result on the Dating Deacons exit survey for why one would not go on a date is “fear.”
To be completely honest, being added to a group chat with my “matchmaker” and some random contact number, then walking aimlessly around North Pit searching for my green-sweatshirt-wearing date, did not produce feelings of confidence.
In true investigative fashion, I did text my friends to see if anyone knew the number and may have looked up the area code, too. But, what was a couple of seconds of awkwardness when it turned into a new person to say “hi” to on-campus, or should I say Zoom?
Upon reflection, what was there really to fear? The unknown? Rejection?
Yet, the true goal of Dating Deacons is not to create a love match, though that is a definite upside. Rather, it is to provide introductions to those who do not run in the same social circles, to re-establish and re-invent a tradition, and most importantly, to support OneSight on their path to provide sight.
Junior Kathryn Paulsen said, “I honestly just wanted to make a new friend that I wouldn’t have met otherwise while supporting a good cause at the same time.”
So, for anyone who has not gone on a blind date … sign up for Dating Deacons, make a new friend, maybe find love, and support a worthy cause!