NEW PARIS — The American Cancer Society’s Survivor Style Show was held on Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the National Trail Elementary gymnasium.
This year’s models included: Rosalie Doran, Suzette Weadick, Courtney Diehl, Earla Donaldson, Cathy Combs, Karen Chronister, Hailey Byrley, Kathy Smallwood, Carolyn Melody, Becky Gruber, Barb Hollar, and Becky Morin. Ushers included: Loni Swihart and Joe Thomas.
According to organizers Tiana White and Patti Hunyadi, the Style Show provides an opportunity for cancer survivors to spread awareness, raise money for the cause, and celebrate their own survival. It also gives encouragement to other survivors in the audience.
“This is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, for our Relay for Life Team. It is also to help cancer survivors celebrate and help them feel a little more special,” White said. “I like the resiliency of the models. I know we have cancer survivors, or people who are going through treatments, who attend and sit in the audience. Some of them are not up to modeling or are quietly dealing with it and don’t want to talk about it yet, but I think them coming and seeing the women up there really helps those in the audience.”
Hunyadi added, “It gives them encouragement.”
Organizer Hunyadi has a different take to organizing the show, as she is also a 25-year cancer survivor. She did model in the Style Show for one year, but took on her current role the following year.
“It gives me a chance, when I call these people, to relate to them, because I am a cancer survivor. If I had someone, way back when, to tell me, ‘You’re going to be okay, I’m a 25-year cancer survivor,’ it would have meant a lot to me, because I was scared to death. I thought it was the end of my life,” she said.
Fashions are provided by Cato of Eaton and Dance with Me of Richmond, Indiana. Proceeds benefit the Preble County Relay for Life.
For Cato Manager Corrin Gabbard, it is important for her to help other women feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. She works with the models one-on-one to help them pick out something they love. If they like their outfit, they have a chance to buy it at 20 percent off.
“I’ve always been a very confident woman — and I know a lot of women aren’t — so if I can pass that on to anyone, it’s a blessing in my case,” she said.
The models in the Style Show are all volunteers who have been diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. This gives them an opportunity to dress up for the audience and show off their self confidence — something many of them had to work hard for after beating cancer.
Rosalie Doran is a cancer survivor who has been doing the Style Show for nine years. She originally agreed to do the style show because she was proud to be a survivor and wanted other people to know they could also survive their battle with cancer.
After her surgery, Doran had to go through chemo, which was so tough she felt she “wasn’t going to make it.”
“It was a long time before I could really feel comfortable that I had made it. By then I thought, it is over. At first I didn’t want to buy anything new, but that disappeared. Today, unless I hear somebody talk about it, I really don’t think about it,” she said.
“I want to show people that we can survive, we can have fun, and we look good – no matter what. I like to be around people who I can talk to, or they can talk to me, and it is a comfortable feeling. At first, I didn’t want anybody to know [about her cancer.] One of the most devastating thing, other than the cancer, was losing my hair. Every strand of it was gone. That was hard.”
The Survivor Show allows her to interact with other cancer survivors, which reminds her she is not alone.
Jeanna VanWinkle participated in the Style Show for her second year. Last year, she was curious and nervous, but ended up “finding peace” in the experience.
“I hadn’t really dealt with cancer ever, throughout my family. I had a great-grandparent who had it, but didn’t remember the struggles, so it didn’t touch home. So, I never talked about [having cancer] and the thought of participating in a group like this was terrifying – it made it real. However, I found peace in seeing other who beat cancer who are still going and being able to share stories with others. That’s what drew me to the group,” she said.
In addition to the fashion show aspect of the night, there were also refreshments, entertainment, and raffle prizes. Raffle prizes were donated by: Planet Fitness Richmond, Tonya Lee in memory of Andrea Brower Coffey, Dance with Me Barb Cummins, Irene Clippinger, Sandy Smith, Buffalo Wild Wings, Eaton Walmart, Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard and Winery, Jill Vaniman, Shaklee-Karen Garrett, Richmond Wetzel Honda, Amy Schultz, Melody Reynolds, Avon-Julie Hines, Cake Lady-Sherry Hood, and Eldorado Trend Setters.
Entertainment was provided by Gene Webb and Scott Davidson.
Style Show organizers would also like to thank National Trail Local school District, Your Flower Shop, Cato, YMCA, and Dance with Me.
Relay for Life 2020 is planned for June.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH