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Runway to the Cure 2018
story by Audrey Hanes, photography by Amy Long

Each year, Runway to the Cure honors breast cancer survivors while raising money for breast cancer awareness, education and mammography services in Northeast Arkansas. The 12th annual dinner and fashion show later this month will feature 13 brave breast cancer survivors and their families and will raise money directly for the St. Bernards Mobile Mammography Unit.

“The mobile unit provides lifesaving screening mammograms to both insured and uninsured women in 18 surrounding counties,” said Runway to the Cure committee member Alicia Storey. “The unit works with area schools, churches, civic groups and employers to provide screenings. Our goal is to remove the barriers that keep women from getting their mammogram. For some, it’s lack of transportation or insurance, for others it may simply be a lack of time, so the mobile unit offers various screenings on weekends and after hours. 

“This event is also a way for us to show our support and to honor those whose lives have been forever changed by breast cancer.”

The 2018 survivors who will be walking the runway on Oct. 25 are Terri Adams (not pictured), Linda Beecham, Connie Clark, Genna Cochran, Dr. Jennifer DiCocco, Sequoia Feeherty, Kristie Hill, Bonnie Parker, Maria Salazar, Hazel Scott, Lori Sexton, Cindy Shepard and Pamela Ward.

Each year, the survivors are outfitted and styled by a team at Dillard’s that is passionate about making the brave participants and their families feel confident and excited to walk the runway. This year’s team is led by Julie Geha, the store’s cosmetics sales manager, who is in her fifth year of helping with the show.

“We want to give back to our community, and we feel that this is a great way to do that,” said Geha. “It means a lot to the people who work here to be able to help with Runway to the Cure. Breast cancer touches everyone’s heart and has affected a lot of people here.”

Geha and her team work with each survivor to make sure they feel confident in the store’s newest and most stylish pieces.

“We offer a one-on-one experience to pamper them and put them in the latest fashions,” said Geha. “While we are working with them, it’s really nice to be able to hear these ladies’ stories. It makes it really hit home. We learn a lot from them, and it benefits us, as well. … It’s something I love to participate in because it’s fun to be a part of that energy. This event turns a negative like breast cancer into positive energy in an effort to find a cure.”

Working with Geha on the 2018 Runway to the Cure committee are Kembralyn Redman of First Community Bank, Christie Matthews with Jonesboro Radio Group, Chicken Salad Chick’s Melissa Hardcastle and Jonesboro Occasions’ Audrey Poff, along with St. Bernards’ Storey, Julie Adamson, Nikki Cupp, Penny Loggins, Meredith Cook, Rachel Smith, Dee Collins, Valerie Earley and Mitzi Pierce.

Hardcastle’s involvement with Runway to the Cure is a new addition to the 2018 event. In the next few weeks, she will open the doors to Chicken Salad Chick, the Jonesboro location of a popular and fast-growing chicken salad specialty eatery in the Southeast area of the U.S. Chicken Salad Chick founders Kevin and Stacy Brown established the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation in 2014 to fight cancer and feed the hungry after Kevin was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.

“Because one of the founders of Chicken Salad Chick passed away from cancer, providing funding to help eliminate cancer became part of the mission of the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation. They also began encouraging all franchisees to support these initiatives at the local level,” said Hardcastle. “I met with St. Bernards’ Laura Pickens and told her about Chicken Salad Chick and how it started and what it strives to accomplish philanthropically. She was very receptive to the brand and has been instrumental in helping me get involved in the community. The committee for Runway to the Cure asked me to partner with them to sponsor this year’s dinner. … It fits right in with our mission at Chicken Salad Chick and how we want to give back to the community.”

Raising money to find a cure for cancer is personal to the restauranteur in more ways than one.

“Both of my parents are cancer survivors right here in Northeast Arkansas, so this is near and dear to my heart,” she said. “Cancer touches everyone. Runway to the Cure raises money for such a great cause. I’m honored that St. Bernards has allowed us this opportunity to share our product and contribute to something that’s so important. As Chicken Salad Chick is being introduced locally, I’m thrilled to be involved so quickly with an event that is focused on cancer prevention and awareness.”

Another highlight of the dinner and fashion show each year is the raffle. Tickets are $5 each or five tickets for $20. Cupp says raffle items include a Dillard’s Fragrance Basket, a St. Bernards Health and Wellness Gym Membership and a free 1-pound large quick chick from Chicken Salad Chick every month for a year. There will also be many other gift certificates and items from area restaurants and businesses available to win.

The 2018 Runway to the Cure Fashion Show and Dinner, presented by St. Bernards Healthcare, Occasions Publishing Group and Dillard’s, will be held on Oct. 25 at St. Bernards Auditorium.  Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and the show will begin at 6. 

Tickets are $25 each or $160 for a table of eight and can be purchased from St. Bernards Development Foundation by calling (870) 207-2500 or online at stbernardsfoundation.org.