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Models spread message of hope at Pink Zone fundraiser

Two hundred ladies browse the raffle items during the Little Black Dress Goes Pink event on for the Pennsylvania Pink Zone on Sunday, October 5, 2014 at General Potter Farm.
Two hundred ladies browse the raffle items during the Little Black Dress Goes Pink event on for the Pennsylvania Pink Zone on Sunday, October 5, 2014 at General Potter Farm. CDT photo

Maddi Radzwich had two reasons to be happy Sunday.

She spent the evening modeling clothes from local outfitters with her husband, Bob, and three daughters Claudia, 14, Ava, 11, and Sophia, 9. She also did it as she celebrated her 13th breast cancer-free year at the 3rd annual Little Black Dress Goes Pink fundraiser at General Potter Farm.

“It’s amazing to be here with my husband and girls,” Radzwich, of State College, said. “I hope to inspire women who are going through breast cancer to continue to live strong and healthy lives like all of the women here.”

The Pink Zone, which sponsors the Little Black Dress Goes Pink, added a twist for breast cancer survivors who walked the runway this year — they got to invite family and friends to strut their stuff with them.

“We have 14 women modeling, and many of them are modeling with their families,” Miriam Powell, Pink Zone executive director, said. “We hope no one battles cancer alone, so this year we invited breast cancer survivors to model with their family and friends, whoever supported them when they had cancer.”

Shelby Shoemaker, a two-time breast cancer survivor, walked the runway with her daughter, Traci Parks.

They each shed tears as they left the stage.

“It meant everything to me for her to be there for me —then and now,” Shoemaker, of Huntingdon, said. “Without my family and friends, I couldn’t have made it. I can’t say how much they’ve meant to me.”

About 200 people attended the show to see the women and their loved ones model clothes from local shops. Appalachian Outdoors, Jezebel’s Boutigue, Diamonds & Lace, Harper’s and Wiscoy fitted the models.

About 20 men acted as butlers throughout the evening and served hors d’oeuvres before the show.

Powell said she had a $20,000 goal for the event, though she won’t know for another few weeks how much money was raised for Pink Zone’s beneficiaries: Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, Kay Yow Cancer Fund, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Lewistown Hospital.

The Pink Zone, which was founded in the summer of 2006, reached the $1 million fundraising mark at the 8th annual Pink Zone game on Feb. 16.

The Lady Lions basketball team kicked off the runway show a day before its first official practice.

“To see all of the survivors is really special,” said senior captain Tori Waldner. “And we have a lot of fun practicing for the runway. We’ve all got something planned for the crowd when we come out.”

Evan Casper, 8, also planned something ahead of time before he and his father, Mike Casper, walked the runway with his mother, Ann Van Buren, a five-year breast cancer survivor.

He dyed some of his hair pink.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Evan, of State College, said.

His father said they’re looking forward to modeling again.

“We’ll do it again if they let us, because any event that supports breast cancer awareness means everything to us,” Mike Casper said. “It’s vital to continue to keep this at the forefront of people’s interest and to fundraise for treatment and prevention.”

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