NEW PARIS — The American Cancer Society’s Annual Preble County Survivor Style Show was held on Thursday, Oct. 18, helping highlight survivors and raising awareness for the battles they’ve fought over the years.
All proceeds from ticket and raffle sales benefited Preble County Relay for Life. This year, the fundraiser generated $1,600 to benefit cancer research.
There were 15 survivors who had an opportunity to model casual clothing from CATO Fashions and formal wear from Dance with Me in Richmond, Indiana. While the women changed between shows, various entertainment was featured.
The showed worked both as a fundraiser and as a way to make these survivors feel “beautiful again.”
Earla Donaldson was one of the 15 participants in the Style Show this year. She is a 17-year breast cancer survivor. She said, the cancer did not come as a surprise, as her mother died from breast cancer.
She was teaching when she was diagnosed and went through 33 treatments of radiation. She drove from Dixon Middle School to Miami Valley Hospital every day for those 33 treatments. After that, she went back to teaching within eight weeks.
She has been involved with the Style Show for 7-8 years. She started walking with the Relay for Life in 2002. She began her church’s first team this year, in remembrance of her husband, who died from leukemia.
“I think it is fun [to model in the Style Show]. I never really felt bad about cancer, because I have had three other people in my family who have had it. I really like to show off and I like clothes,” she said.
Another participant, Suzette Weadick, is a six-year colon cancer survivor who is thrilled to be a part of the Style Show, because of her belief that every day is a gift.
“I want to celebrate life. Being surrounded by other survivors, we all know what we have been through, and I choose not to let that define me. I am grateful to be given another chance at life,” she said.
Hailey Byrley is one of the youngest participants in the Style Show. When she was six years old, she started having severe side pains and losing weight. After a trip to the Emergency Room one night, Byrley was transported to Children’s Hospital, where they found a tumor the “size of a football” attached to her left kidney.
She stayed in the hospital for six months. She remembers being in constant pain and going through numerous IVs as her veins would blow out.
“It was hard, because I was a kid and I didn’t really understand,” she said. “I like being involved with the Style Show, because it is a fun way for me to be involved with other cancer survivors in the community. It is really fun for me to do — I absolutely love it.
“I think it is important, because I feel like more people should know that cancer happens in our community to all ages. It is not just adults who can get it, but kids can go through the same thing that adults do. My favorite part of the Style Show is walking up there and letting them see the outfits and doing what I want to do. I have been involved for four years and I love how friendly everybody is.”
CATO Fashions has been a part of the Style Show for four years. For Corrin Gabbard it is an “honor” to be able to work with and dress these survivors for the event.
“Our models are amazing and they are almost a second family to me now. They come in, we have fun, and they pick out their outfits. We just know we are going to do it every year. It is definitely a blessing to give back to the community. Most of these ladies are teachers who have done multiple things for the community. I get to be a part in making them feel like a lady again,” she said.
“We have a lot of girls who have had mastectomies, so it does alter their bodies. For us to find something at our stores that helps them feel pretty is a blessing. It is truly inspiring to watch these women. In most cases, they have almost lost their lives.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH