2015 Spring Fashion Soirée

Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer at the average age of 6 years old. Each year, more than 40,000 children undergo treatment. Of those children who’ve been diagnosed, 12% do not survive their diagnosis.

Those statistics–though awful to hear–are the hard facts. Cancer is no longer the disease attributed to the elderly and longtime smokers. Today we live in a world where sometimes even the innocent among us have to battle against this deadly illness. Fortunately we also live in a world full of people who have genuine love and impassioned care for these children. A world where fictional superheroes are unnecessary because we have real life superheroes walking among us. Heroes and advocates such as Mark and Josie NeJame, champions for a cure to childhood cancer and co-founders of Runway to Hope.

If you haven’t yet heard of Runway To Hope, listen up now because this organization has taken Central Florida by storm and unlike our famous Florida hurricanes, this storm is one that you do not want to miss. Established in 2010, Runway to Hope’s mission is to provide direct support and aid to Central Florida children and their families impacted by pediatric cancer. Through partnerships with Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Florida Hospital for Children, and Nemours Children’s Hospital, Runway to Hope seeks to not only raise funds and awareness, but also bring new programs and initiatives to the pediatric cancer community. One of the many creative ways the Runway to Hope organization achieves this is through their highly anticipated event, the Spring Fashion Soirée.

On May 16th, thousands of people from across the Central Florida community flooded the gorgeous halls of Rosen Shingle Creek for Runway to Hope’s signature fundraising event of the year. The highlight of the Spring Fashion Soirée is a fashion show featuring more than 100 incredible and courageous children, ages 2 to 18, all who are currently battling or have overcome their cancer. Arm in arm with dozens of national and local celebrity escorts such as Style Magazines’ Sven Bode, the courageous children strut the runway to show off their fabulous clothing as well as the strength of their determination and admirable spirits. 

“At the end of the day, the highlight is always the children as they continue to inspire us all.” – Mark NeJame

One of the most exciting parts of the build up to the Spring Fashion Soirée is finding out who the co-hosts will be. Each year, Mark and Josie never fail to surprise the crowd with a top-notch celebrity emcee and this year was no different as 2011’s Spring Fashion Soirée hosts, Giuliana and Bill Rancic, retuned to take control of the stage. Giuliana, one of the nation’s most credible and well-known entertainment journalists, and her businessman husband Bill provided the audience with entertaining, candid and inspiring conversation throughout the night. From introducing the corporate sponsors and leading the evening’s live auction to proudly sharing the names and fun facts of each and every child who shined on the runway, Giuliana and Bill kept the positive vibes going all night long.

The caliber of people who stand behind this organization is truly remarkable and speaks volumes to the extensive reach of Runway to Hope and their cause. The evening opened up with a video montage of dozens of celebrities showing their support for the Spring Fashion Soirée. From The Jonas Brothers and Shaquille O’Neal to Nancy Grace, Larry King and many others, the video only further proved what everyone there already knew: That regardless of our age, background, job, color, lifestyle or any other differences, Runway to Hope is a cause that all of us must get behind. The Spring Fashion Soirée is truly unlike any other event in that it fosters collaborative efforts among corporations, local businesses and philanthropists who are often in competition with each other the other 364 days of the year. Everybody is joining hands on this and coming together for the kids, as they should be.

“We are overwhelmed by the amazing community support that occurred. I was born and raised in Orlando and I’ve never seen the public and the people of Central Florida, from so many diverse areas, come together so beautifully for such a common cause that involves all three children’s hospitals and working with the local TV stations, magazines and numerous radio stations.” – Mark NeJame

From beginning to end, the Runway to Hope Spring Fashion Soirée was a celebration of children and their incomparable strength and courage. Since 2010, the Spring Fashion Soirée has grown from 800 guests to over 1,900 and more than $800,000 in contributions in its fourth year. Now in its 5th year, the phenomenal event was attended by 2,100 people and at the time of this article’s publish date, had raised a total of $1,171,000 with money still coming in and being counted. The success of the Runway to Hope Spring Fashion Soirée is overwhelming and the positive impact it has made on children and families in our community affected by pediatric cancer is encouraging to us all.

“It was beyond our expectations. We had high hopes going in, but we definitely exceeded it and then some and it felt incredible in the end.” – Josie NeJame

Though it’s easy to shut our eyes and pretend this disease doesn’t affect us when our immediate loved ones are healthy, the truth of the matter is that cancer does affect each and every single one of us. Pediatric cancer affects all ethnic, gender and socio-economic groups. These boys and girls are our future. Every time this disease claims another victim, that is a piece of our future that’s been ripped away. The time to stand up and fight is now. It doesn’t take a radioactive spider bite to become a hero. Each and every single supporter of Runway to Hope is a hero to these children and you can be one too. I hope you’ll consider joining all of us at Orlando Style Magazine in contributing to this inspiring non-profit. Together we can put an end to childhood cancer.

LET’S HOLD HANDS. LET’S WALK TOGETHER. LET’S END CHILDHOOD CANCER.

Visit www.RunwayToHope.org for more information on Runway to Hope and to find out how you can donate today.