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‘Sugarplums’ hit runway at charity fashion show


Teenagers may have dominated the Teens for Miracles charity fashion show since its inception six years ago, but this year, the “sugarplums” stole the show.

“Last year ... there were little girls looking up at the big girls, and at the end of the show ... we put the idea out to the audience of having younger girls in; we got a huge round of applause,” organizer Kathleen B. Lettiere said.

Ms. Lettiere owns A Touch of Grace, 404 Coffeen St. This is the seventh year that she has organized the fashion show, which benefits Children’s Miracle Network of Northern New York at Samaritan Medical Center.

Most of the younger girls, like 4-year-old Adriana Arthur, did not understand how the show helped other children. She was tickled as pink as her rose-colored dress just to be involved.

“I like it because it’s fun,” she said,

The event was held Sunday at the Bruce M. Wright Memorial Conference Center, 1291 Faichney Drive. There were 84 volunteer models. Among them were 15 girls as young as 3 modeling gowns for the Sugarplum Ball.

“Now it’s a family show. It’s a wonderful thing,” Ms. Lettiere said.

The idea of including younger girls was so successful that the show had to turn girls away from participating. To make up for it, A Touch of Grace is planning a glamour photo session for later this month. Proceeds from the session also will benefit CMN.

With the change in age level, several children assisted by the Miracle Network made it into the show this year. This includes recently cancer-free Joseph D. Rubacha, 12, Dexter.

“It’s a very, very good network,” he said. The organization assisted his family with paying medical bills. “They helped me with my chemo treatments.”

“He had to get a lot of shots and stuff,” said Joey’s sister Hanna T. Busto, 9, who also walked the runway. She was particularly fond of her dress because it was her favorite color — blue.

Joey said the black-and-white tuxedo that he modeled was the same one he wore for his mother’s wedding and he hoped he would wear it again at his prom.

Another former CMN child was Remi E. Britt, 16, Watertown.

“It helped me when I was younger; I had my leg amputated,” she said. Looking at her all dolled up and smiling, no one would guess she suffered from neurofibromatosis.

Miss Britt is a neighbor of Ms. Lettiere’s and has taken part in the fashion show for the past three years. Of her bejeweled corset and frilly, neon-pink skirt, she said, “It’s so awesome; bright and sparkly.”

For some volunteers, such as Jason Vivyan, 19, of Watertown, the best part of the show was knowing that he and his friends were raising money for a good cause.

“I just figured if I could get me and a couple guys, then we could help increase the revenue ... morally it was the right thing to do,” Mr. Vivyan said.

Abigail E. Swanson, Carthage, modeled an orange and yellow sherbet-colored Disney Princess dress.

“I hope we can raise a lot of money for them,” she said after coming off of the runway.

“It takes a village to put it on, it really does,” said CMN of NNY director Jocelyn D. Mejias. “We just want to thank everyone for their support.”

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