Fashionable fundraising

Annual AWear Affair Fashion Show Luncheon at Sinclair

By Katie Christoff

Photo: Leslie Solganik takes to the runway at the 2014 AWear Affair Fashion Show

A cancer diagnosis is a scary thing to face, and can leave anyone feeling completely alone. For women, that’s where the Noble Circle Project comes in.

The Dayton-based organization, free for women diagnosed with cancer, promotes sisterhood among women experiencing similar emotions throughout their illnesses. It strives to promote physical, mental and emotional health during this difficult time in a woman’s life.

The Noble Circle Project’s biggest annual fundraiser, AWear Affair Fashion Show and Luncheon, will take place Saturday at Sinclair’s Ponitz Center. The 12th annual event will have a Kentucky derby theme, called “Harnessing the Power Within.”

The annual fashion show, which places members of the Noble Circle Project on the runway, is perfect proof that these women are not only surviving, but thriving, despite their illness.

“It’s very uplifting and empowering to the women who participate, especially if they’ve been in treatment,” event co-chair Kym Yahn said. “So many of these women have been through chemotherapy and that often changes your appearance and damages your self-esteem. At this fashion show, everyone receives a makeover and they can just get out there and strut around.”

Clothes for this year’s fashion show are provided by three local boutiques: Pieces of Style, Zig Zag Gallery and Magnolias on Main.

The day will begin around 10:30 a.m. with boutique shopping for the participating models. Yahn said there are 30 vendors participating this year, and they’ll be selling “girly things” like jewelry, clothing, candles, lotion and purses.

“Sometimes these women only see each other once a year, so there’s often a lot of sisterhood, socializing and catching up,” Yahn said.

Lunch will be served around noon, immediately followed by a program recognizing and thanking sponsors and donors. Yahn said they also honor one such donor each year with the Noble Award, to show their appreciation for the support that person has provided them.

“We give the Noble Award to someone in the community who’s not a member, but does a lot to support us and tell our story,” Yahn said. This year, Mary McCarty of the Dayton Daily News will receive the honor for her support of Noble Circle Project programs and coverage of the organization.

Yahn said the fashion show usually features 24 models, each presenting two outfits. The two rounds of looks are split up by entertainment, which will be provided by a vocalist singing Kentucky Derby-themed songs this year. Yahn said the lyrics to the songs will also be provided in the program so guests will be able to sing along.

As for guests, Yahn is encouraging everyone who won’t be styled for the runway to wear large hats in true Derby spirit.

The fundraiser also features a raffle – Yahn said they’ve received about 18 raffle baskets this year, each valued around $500.

Last year, the event sold out at 720 tickets, and Yahn is optimistic they’ll sell out again this year. She said their net goal is to raise $50,000. It’s important for them to draw a lot of people to this event, she said, not only to raise money but also to get the Noble Circle Project’s name out there.

“Through this fashion show and luncheon, we hope to build awareness of the organization so we can grow our base of support,” Yahn said.

Yahn has worked on AWear Affair since 2008 when it was moved to Sinclair, where she works, but it became even more personal to her in 2012 when she was diagnosed with cancer.

“I spent many years helping the event on both sides,” Yahn said. “I reached out to the Noble Circle Project when I was diagnosed, and it was ironic because I contacted the woman I had worked with over the years on this event.”

Yahn explained that the Noble Circle Project aims to improve every aspect of a woman’s life. The organization has three main pillars: whole foods nutrition, exercise and peer support. They hold a retreat twice a year, which begins the healing process for women who have joined. During the weekend retreat, the women are taught about nutrition, a gentle form of exercise called qigong, and get to bond with each other and share their feelings and healing processes. A licensed therapist also takes part in order to help guide the discussion.

“They learn together, cry together, whatever it takes,” Yahn said. “They really bond over that period.”

The facilitators of the retreat, including the therapist and nutrition and wellness instructors are all volunteers, and the program is free for women to participate in. For this reason, Yahn explained, fundraising is extremely important for the Noble Circle Project.

She emphasized AWear Affair as their biggest and best fundraiser annually: “We’re telling our story to a larger audience in a fun way.”

The Noble Circle Project’s annual AWear Affair Fashion Show and Luncheon will take place Saturday, Feb. 28 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Sinclair’s Ponitz Center, 444 W. Third St. Tickets start at $50 per person. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit noblecircle.org.

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