High fashion, medical breakthroughs, local celebrities and loads of fun — the Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center brings it all together at its jaw-dropping 87th annual Fashion Show, “Breathtaking,” on Oct. 17 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.
With its fast pace, lively music and party atmosphere, the fashion show appeals to men and women, and has a noticeably more upbeat feel than other shows.
No professional models are used in the making of the show. “All models are local people who either have an interest in Rush or people we love and want to work with,” said Kate Peterson, the chairwoman of this year’s event.
The runway will teem with celebrities and designers. Jamal Mayers, a member of the Stanley Cup-winning 2013 Blackhawks team, will be showing fashions from his own line, Champagne & Caviar. A few of Mayers’ celebrity sports friends will be modeling his fashions. Students from the Art Institute of Chicago will showcase their fun and funky clothing. The student designers will walk the runway with their models and fashions.
Other celebrity sightings will include former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and his wife Sarah; Conor Dwyer, an Olympic gold-medalist swimmer from Winnetka; Kathy Brock, news anchor at WLS-Channel 7; and Anna Davlantes, co-anchor of Good Day Chicago.
The show is one of the biggest fundraisers for Rush and each year the auxiliary picks a principal project to fund. They are currently in the fourth year of funding a five-year, $2.5 million project for Rush Cancer Center. This year’s proceeds will benefit lung cancer patients by raising funds to purchase a piece of equipment that can analyze a blood sample for diagnosis and treatment possibilities.
“So many cancer treatments are so invasive, so difficult on the body,” said Catherine King, president of the Auxiliary. “This is minimally invasive and relatively inexpensive. The implications are far-reaching, and this piece of equipment will be able to take those findings and bring them to a new level.”
The show moves at a fast clip, accompanied by lively music. There will be eight woman’s segments, two children’s and two men’s. “The men and the children are really the highlights,” admitted King. “They steal the show.”
Melissa Hennessy of Western Springs, a board member of the auxiliary, knows this better than anyone. This year both her daughter and her son will be in the show. In previous years she and her husband, a doctor at Rush, have walked the runway.
Also, this year’s focus on lung cancer research cause hits close to the heart. Hennessy’s father-in-law is fighting a tough battle with the disease and her family is more inspired than ever to help the cause.
“The folks at Rush like to say they’re changing the ways of medicine,” she said. “And that takes money. We like to make it fun and exciting”