Hundreds gathered for the American Cancer Society’s annual Cure by Design Gala, which organizers describe as a celebration of cancer survivors.
Several models walked the runway during the fashion show portion of the event. For Haley Tuck, modeling is something she had never done before.
Haley said she felt “a little bit of nerves, but I have a lot of excitement. [I] just want to get out there and just have a lot of fun.”
But this wasn’t any ordinary fashion show as these models share a special bond. All are cancer survivors.
Haley was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system, when she was a baby.
“I had to have a skin cell transplant at Duke University, and I’ve been cancer-free for 13 years,” she said.
“This is where we are so happy that now we have the opportunity to give back,” said Shelly Tuck, Haley’s mother.
Shelly Tuck was there to cheer her daughter on.
“She was practicing earlier tonight, and I was surprised that I got a little emotional just during the practice, but it just makes you look back and think how far we’ve come,” Shelly Tuck said.
According to organizers, 13 models of all ages are walked the runway this year. Models we spoke with said they share a special connection as fellow survivors.
“Just the initial diagnosis of cancer is scary, and we all went through different roads, but at the end of it we kind of have similar backgrounds,” said Kendall Cannon, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 22 and has been cancer-free since last year. “It feels like family. Earlier, when we were practicing the runway, it just felt like I was with my family.”
Organizers said the fundraiser celebrates survivors and their stories.
“When there is somebody that gets that diagnosis, they’re aware that people made it through it,” said Joanna Hudzik, co-chair of the Cure by Design Gala. “They hear the good stories, not just the scary stories.”
“Sometimes you feel lost, you know, like you’re the only one going through it or the only one that had the experience,” Haley Tuck said. “And it’s just really awesome to know that other people are having the same experience as you and going through the same problems and challenges you are.”
Last year’s Cure by Design Gala raised more than $205,000 for the American Cancer Society, according to organizers, who hope this year’s event has exceeded last year’s fundraising total.
WFXR News reporter Sophia Borrelli volunteered as a committee member on the board for the Cure by Design Gala.