Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Terry asked if I would like to sketch a fashion show at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Florida Mall. I approached Saks from inside the mall and found the gate had been pulled down and a sign put up announcing a private party. I had to backtrack a bit then walk outside to enter Saks from the parking lot. The women at the reception table searched for my name on the list and they couldn't find it. I had been invited so I stubbornly told them to check again. They finally just let me in. There was food and drink but I wanted to get right to work. Most of the seats in the front rows had reserved signs on them. I fount a seat right next to where the models entered the runway. From my seat I could see the models backstage as they prepared.
The event was a fundraiser for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. This organization launched a new clinical trial to treat 18 children with relapsed Acute Limphoblastic Leukemia or ALL as it is commonly called. Each child's treatment would cost $13,000. My father had died from Leukemia shortly before I moved to Orlando so I know first hand how this disease can ravage and deplete a family member.
Eight year old Gina Marie Incandela started things off by singing "Baby you're a Firework" by Katy Perry. She had sung the National Anthem at a Magic playoff game I recently attended. Her song began tentatively then when she marched down the runway with her hands raised the audience was hooked. I wasn't ready for what followed. Angelys, an adorable young eight year old girl, made her way down the runway with her mom escorting her. Angelys along with all the other young models is battling Leukemia. The girls were smiling as they sported beautiful oufits down the runway. Several girls had lost strength in their legs and they still made it down the runway with adults escorts supporting them by the elbows. They exhibited strength and beauty.
The host, Brandi Williams would announce some enlightening snippet for each girl. One girls simple bio read, "I am so much more than my cancer." I saw women across the runway dabbing their eyes and I struggled to keep my eyes clear so I could sketch. Terry had to leave since the scene made her sad. For one shining moment every one of these survivors were superstars. A young girl got to the end of the runway in front of the video cameras and she did an extra sassy hip move that bought a loud cheer from the audience.
Then came an auction. A woman won an amazing week long trip to Colorado for just $2,000. A trip to Paris France had me tempted to bid. When the auction was over, the area quickly cleared out. Melissa Kasper was nice enough to bring me a plate of food as I finished the sketch. The pork and mashed potatoes were amazing. I got up to get a second plate. I found Terry talking to Rachel Kapitan who was helping Ella Kapul at Chocolate Provocateur.When Terry went to hug Jessica Mariko of Drip Dance, a martini glass crashed to the floor. Never a dull moment. We laughed so we wouldn't cry.