Talk about going bigger or going home. Last year, a group of young women put on Lights, Camera, Fashion! at the Henry Strater Theatre to raise money for Manna Soup Kitchen, and the place was overflowing.
This year, they moved it up to the Ballroom in the Student Union at Fort Lewis College, and the place was standing-room-only. I guess the only place left that’s bigger is the Exhibit Hall at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, but it’s a bit lacking in ambience for a stylish event like this.
It’s an interesting concept. Beautiful girls of all shapes and sizes spend weeks learning the walk (and look), courtesy of former runway model Harlene Russel. Then they go under the spotlights for the big show.
An example of kids helping kids, the funds raised will go to Packs of Love, Manna Soup Kitchen’s program to send food home with students who qualify, so they won’t go hungry over the weekend. These young people raised almost $4,570 between ticket sales and donations from the enthusiastic crowd.
Kathy Tonnessen, Manna’s executive director, tells me that because they are able to fill the backpacks for $3 to $4.50 a week through Care and Share, that money will go a long way. Manna also received a grant from Walmart this year for Packs of Love, so it will begin serving all the schools in Durango School District 9-R this week, which will be about 1,000 backpacks a month. (Sad that this many kids need it; glad we have it.)
This year, the models were students from Durango, Animas, Bayfield, Ignacio, Dolores, Cortez-Montezuma, Aztec, Farmington and Bloomfield, New Mexico, high schools.
They were Avery Pendell, Izzy Riley, Kristie Hillyer, Iliana Sawyer, Alora Lind, Caitlyn Phelps, Alicia Naranjo, Aurora Murga, Emma Youngquest, Augusta Brockus, Sarah Moore, Chloe Bourdon, Aubrey Folk, Clarice Huckins, Emily Fogel, Morgan Allred, Amya Bison, Olivia Gettman, Emily McDonald and Melissa Napier.
Carol Cardwell and Tiffany Aukerman sponsored the event through their business Cardwell Aukerman Photography and captured it in stills.
Renae Marie Apparel and Dolce Boutique supplied the fashions. Studio U and The Chair salons gilded the lilies, so to speak, by providing hair and makeup services.
The girls came out twice in each outfit, first, to show off the clothing and their personality, Cardwell said, then second for the boutiques to describe the outfits.
The young women finished the show by styling their own favorite outfits while Kim Beach talked about their goals and plans for the future. (I really like that this wasn’t just about how they look, but who they are. It’s an important lesson for all young women.)
The event isn’t just modeling; there’s entertainment, too. The Dance in the Rockies competition dance team got things off to a high energy start. Then between two showings, 57 young women and men from the dance school filled the runway with a number.
Rapper Jhan Doe talked about growing up with the same kinds of hardships as the kids who will be helped by the event in Packs of Love before performing. And putting a face on the need, a grandmother spoke about the struggles raising her four grandchildren alone. Cardwell said that was part of the learning, too, exposure to the fact that there are a lot of young people who aren’t as lucky as the models.
The event was supported by a lot of companies and individuals. Durango Party Rental helped make the “T” runway work; Lighting Communications saved the day by stepping in at the last minute and coordinating borrowed lights from New Hope and River churches, Joy in the Messiah and Home Depot along with some of its own to create a New York City-runway experience.
Meiko Gilliam and David Brainum preserved the event via video.
While I’m on the subject of feeding our neighbors who would otherwise go hungry, there are two important events today in that regard. You can feed yourself and feed others at the same time. How cool is that?
Starting at 11 a.m. at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, the Durango Food Bank Stampede (a nontraditional rodeo featuring bicycle barrel racing, lawn-mower races and other hilarity) & BBQ will kick off, with tickets going for $10. The food bank is in the midst of a capital campaign because it needs more space, so this is especially important this year.
And at 6 p.m., Bread for Manna will take place at the Powerhouse Science Center. Food from area restaurants and live music promise to make it a fun evening. Tickets are $50.
It will be my third event at the Powerhouse in a week – it’s nice to see it become such a popular venue.
Whether they’re promenading in Victorian outfits for the Durango Heritage Celebration or taking a hike in modern garb, here’s hoping these folks have a happy birthday – Gail Stern, Jan Harrison, Bill Adams, Nancy Burpee, Pat Garofalo, Andrew Ferguson, Mary Thompson, Steve Hudson, Ann Huttner, Geri Cramer, Geoff Overington, Katherine Reynolds, Andrea Owen, Kathleen Sayers, Lou Steele, Jonathan Rudolph, Steve Williams, Travis Dalenberg, Shannon Kunkel, Toby Lawson, Emily Rohren, George Rose, Kathy Deaderick, David Pugh, Joe Shaw and John Viner.
Special greetings go to Bobbie Ledgerwood on the occasion of her 90th birthday.
It’s truly fall when the Durango Adaptive Sports Association holds its annual Harvest Gala. The event will take place Thursday night at the Strater Hotel, with a delicious four-course dinner at the Mahogany Grille plus a fabulous silent and live auction, particularly for all you folks who enjoy the recreational opportunities in our area. Your support allows people with physical and developmental disabilities to enjoy them, too.
Tickets are $99, and there aren’t many left, so call ASAP today and leave a message for Lee Hagar. The deadline is late afternoon Monday for her to give Strater event guru Emily Spencer the final food count, so tick tock, folks.
Ah, fall anniversaries: A crackling fire, some hot cider and thou (the Southwest Colorado version of Kalil Gibran) for Robert and Melanie Mazur and Bill and Cathy Roberts.
Your friendly Neighbors columnist is off for a few days this week. No column Wednesday, but Neighbors will return in all its perkiness Oct. 18.
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