By Christopher Andersson North County Outlook
Ron Walcher, Skookum Brewery employee, right, pours a glass for Jerremy Davidson at the Arlington Brew Fest on July 23.
A fenced-off Legion Park in downtown Arlington was full of brewers and local residents as part of the first ever Arlington Brew Fest on July 23.
The event was put on by Vision for a Cure as a fundraiser to help fight and raise awareness for Usher syndrome.
The syndrome is the leading cause of deaf-blindness and affects roughly four out of every 100,000 in the U.S. according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders.
Vision for a Cure is a local organization that was started four years ago.
Arlington native Jeremy Carter is the president of the non-profit organization and has a wife and a brother-in-law who have the syndrome.
Although the disease is rare, it can have a big impact to those who are battling it.
"It's tough. I tell everyone that she handles it better than I do, because she is a trooper," said Carter.
Parts of her vision are going, he said, and it is hard to lose independence at such an early age.
"She stopped driving about two years ago because of vision issues," he said. "She's 37 and has lost that independence. That's something you don't think can happen that young."
The disease is not that well known, but part of the organization's mission is to raise awareness.
"If I wasn't married to somebody who has it, I would have no idea," he said.
The non-profit organization donates the funds it raises to the Westerfield Laboratory at the University of Oregon, which performs research on Usher syndrome and is led by a professor who has two children with the disease.
This is the first year the organization put on a brew fest event.
"For the last three years we've done an event called Concert in the Garden," said Carter.
"It was awesome, we've raised about $85,000 in the last three years, but it was time to do something different," he said.
The event was drawing the same people every year, and Vision for a Cure wanted to spread its message further, said Carter.
The Arlington Brew Fest was successful at drawing in a lot of people, selling out within the first hour, said Carter.
"You can't ask for anything better than this," he said.
"It seems like it's pretty successful for its first year," said Ron Walcher, Skookum Brewery employee.
Local Jerremy Davidson said there were some good craft beers available.
"I was hoping to see some of our other local breweries instead of some of the big boys. We have some really good breweries out of Woodinville, but it's still a great event. I'm really enjoying it," he said.
A total of 20 different breweries came to the park, in addition to cider and wine producers.
Food was also available and all vendors were donating either a flat fee or a percentage of their sales to the cause.
"The beer and wine industry is an amazingly giving community," said Carter.
Carter said he liked the idea of a beer fest because it brings people from all walks of life and gives them a chance to try a variety of drinks.
"It gives the attendees an opportunity to try beers that they may not normally see at Red Robin or Applebee's or wherever," he said.
Carter expects that the Arlington Brew Fest will be back next year as well.
More information about Vision for a Cure is available at visionforacure.com.