Fashion Show Fundraiser Shines Light on the Disabled

There was plenty of glamour and fashion on and off the runway in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Saturday night, as Stephanie White transformed the pain of losing her sister into a movement to raise money for those suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

The “A Night to Remember” fundraiser gala and fashion show on April 27 was planned to benefit Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Brain Injury Program in honor of White’s late sister, Brittany N. White.

It was a red-carpet affair, as sharply dressed guests took photographs and sipped wine while enjoying an evening of fashion and music.

“It’s a lot of hard work for a great cause,” said White of the event, a culmination of weeks of planning and hours of practice with fashion models. “My sister Brittany was a brain injury patient at Kennedy Krieger Institute from 1987-1988. Brittany passed away in 2001 and I put this event on every few years in honor of her memory.”

But what began as one big sister’s effort has turned into a fashion revival that matched medical professionals from the Kennedy Kreiger, which is located in Baltimore, with models and fashion designers who showcased clothing for people who want to look good despite their walk in life.

The event featured 13-year-old fashion designer Leah Howard, who showcased her Adaptive Style line for people with disabilities that was worn by several models from the Ms. Wheelchair Maryland pageant.

“People with disabilities are a huge part of the community and Kennedy Kreiger has made a mark with all of us,” said model Shannon Minnick, 48, who is part of Ms. Wheelchair Maryland.

Even though she is paralyzed from the waist down, Minnick said she lives a full life.

“I am mother of two children and I work 40 hours a week,” said Minnick, whose sentiments were echoed by 30-year-old model Patrice Franklin, who also is paraplegic.

“This shows what you can do when you put your mind to it,” Franklin said.

There was no shortage of head-turning outfits for men and women, largely due to celebrity stylist and designer Desmond Handon, who launched the EthniCITY Brand in D.C. and The Tuxedo House in Timonium, Md.

Christine Diamond, who coordinated the event, said, “This is an amazing fashion show and I am thankful to Stephanie, who is my mentor as an event planner.”

Renee Allen, host of the “Renee Allen & Friends” radio show in D.C., hosted the event, which included a silent auction with items from the Baltimore Ravens, Smyth Jewelers, Bradford Portraits and Phenomenal Photo Booth Rentals. There was even an autographed photo of Whitney Houston.

Seated in the audience with her 16-year-old son was Pamela Davis Gavami, whose husband died of hydrocephalus, a brain disease, in 2015 after three surgical procedures. She said attending the event was part of the healing process after losing her husband.

“My son is in a fashion show next week to support suicide prevention and mental health,” Gavami said. “I was lucky that I had Medicare, but there are so many people who don’t have health insurance and it is important for people to know that there are people here who do care for them.”

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Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the Greater Washington Area. Hamil has chronicled the Million Man March, the Clinton White House, the September 11 attack, the sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the campaign of President Barack Obama and many other people and events. Hamil is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of the Washington Post where he writes a range of stories, shoots photos and produces videos for the print and online editions of the Post. In addition, he is often called upon to report on crime, natural disasters and other breaking issues. In 2006 Harris was part of a team of reporters that published the series “Being a Black Man.” He was also the reporter on the video project that accompanied the series that won two Emmy Awards, the Casey Medal and the Peabody Award. Hamil has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, the American University, the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia. He also lectures several times a year to interns during their semester in the District as part of their matriculation at the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities.

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