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Fighting Cancer Together Through Runway to the Cure
by Audrey Hanes, photography by Kayla Broadway

Later this month, eight brave breast cancer survivors and their families will walk in the Runway to the Cure Fashion Show and Dinner to raise money for and awareness of a disease that affects one in eight women nationwide. The 13th annual event will honor these women and their fight in hopes of saving lives in Northeast Arkansas.

“Because of the money raised at this event, women in our region will have greater access to lifesaving screening mammograms on our Mobile Mammography Unit,” said Nikki Cupp, an administrative assistant with St. Bernard’s Imaging Center who has been involved with the planning of Runway to the Cure for 10 years. “It’s a great opportunity for our community to take pause and recognize the impact this disease has had on so many and to celebrate survivorship in such a fun, unique way.

“… All the proceeds will benefit St. Bernards Mobile Mammography program. The program has been in existence since 1998, serves 18 counties in Northeast Arkansas and Southern Missouri and is pleased to announce (that) a brand new mobile unit will be on the road this month, bringing the latest 3D (tomosynthesis) technology. The mobile unit serves to eliminate barriers for women by bringing this lifesaving technology to (the) industry, surrounding clinics and hospitals and community events. The funds raised will help provide breast health education and services to women all across our region.”

The fashion show and dinner will take place on Oct. 24 at St. Bernards Auditorium thanks to the returning support of St. Bernards Healthcare and Medical Group, Occasions Publishing Group, Dillard’s and Chicken Salad Chick.

Walking the runway in this year’s show are Carolyn Fowler, Kathy Lemmons, June Long, Kara Maxwell, Kimberly Scutero, Janice Simonetti, Allecia Tribble and Sue Webster. The survivors work closely with a team of Dillard’s stylists who are passionate about making the survivors feel and look their best.

“I have been involved with Runway to the Cure for 10 years now,” said men’s fragrance counter manager Linda Frazier, who is also a certified life coach. “What I enjoy most about styling survivors is simply seeing them smile and making them feel like the most beautiful women in the world.”

Frazier’s motivation to get involved with Runway to the Cure was personal. She volunteers each year in loving memory of her sister, Kathy Dean, and her mom, Ruth Johnson, who passed away from breast cancer and ovarian cancer, respectively.

“Runway to the Cure was actually a blessing to me,” said Frazier. “Cancer was very personal to me; my sister was just diagnosed with breast cancer the year before, and I really didn’t know how to handle it. My sister and I were very close, so when I was asked to become involved with styling the ladies that were breast cancer survivors, I felt like this was my way of giving back. 

“What no one knew was that my sister lost her battle with breast cancer and passed away a few weeks before my first Runway to the Cure show. My sister loved fashion, so now this became my way to make everyone beautiful in honor of my sister, Kathy.”

Frazier says this year’s fall and winter fashion trends and accessories will be inspired by the idea of celebrating the woman of today – who they are and who they dare to become. From trends like refining silhouettes with skirts, blazers and even trench coats to wearing fashion statement jewelry, the looks this year will be about making a statement. She says that late ‘70s and early ‘80s fashion, such as bold collars and wide-legged pants, will be making an appearance, too.

“What I love most about style is (that it) makes you look and feel different, it builds confidence (and) it gives the survivors a moment to put everything aside and just be powerful and simply beautiful,” said Frazier. “Think about it; their entire lives changed in seconds from the moment they heard, ‘You have breast cancer,’ so if I can make it easier and bring joy in their lives even for a moment, then that’s all I can ask for.”

Longtime Runway to the Cure committee member Kembralyn Redman stepped up to help organize the charitable event for personal reasons, as well.

“This cause has always been very near and dear to me,” said Redman, business development officer at First Community Bank. “Breast cancer has always been prevalent in my family. Most recently, in 2017 my mom was diagnosed. I have always been an advocate for breast cancer awareness, the St. Bernards mobile mammography program and other nonprofits, but when it personally affects you it makes you a little more passionate about that cause. 

“I think it is important to Jonesboro and Northeast Arkansas to support this mission, because one in eight women will be diagnosed. That number is huge. The funds raised from this event directly help women in Northeast Arkansas by providing screening services and potentially saving their lives.”

Cupp says that while this year’s event will be similar to years past with great door prizes, food and fashion, the 2019 Runway to the Cure will have an educational emphasis.  

“We get feedback every year from the survivors and their families, and a lot of the new things you’ve seen in years past have been from their suggestions,” said Cupp. “They are not just a part of the show, but involved in its creation and direction, as well. This year’s intermission content was 100 percent influenced by last year’s models, we just work to bring their ideas to life.”

The 2019 Runway to the Cure Fashion Show and Dinner will be held on Oct. 24. At 5:30 p.m. at St. Bernards Auditorium, 505 East Washington Ave. Tickets are $25 each or $160 for a table of eight. For more information, call (870) 207-2500 or visit stbernardsfoundation.org.