June 09, 2014

When a former colleague reached out to me about modeling in the American Cancer Society’s Cure by Design fashion show, I was nervous but excited! As a 12 year survivor of breast cancer, I was thrilled to be a part of the third annual event.

To prepare for the fashion show, the team hosted a photo shoot Jan. 10 at a studio in the Noda neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C. All the models had 15-minute slots to have their photos taken by Jim Merrill for the website and promotional materials for the event. It was fun to have my photo taken and meet some of my fellow “models on a mission.”

A month later all the models were invited to a reception at the Morrison Marquette Properties in South Park to meet each other and get last-minute information on the upcoming show. During the reception, we also had a chance to create a video about our personal struggle with cancer. Moira Quinn, senior vice president of communications and chief operating officer for Charlotte Center City Partners, served as the reporter for the video series. The videos were then edited and used as we walked down the catwalk during the fashion show.

Photo courtesy of JMT Photography

The night of the reception I also found out that Vestique would be dressing me for the show. A few days later, I stopped by the store and tried on dozens of outfits. The girls at the store were beyond helpful, and I finally narrowed it down to two choices. The store manager, Lauren, picked out my final outfit. I loved it so much; I had to buy it after the show!

When it was finally event day, I arrived at the Fillmore at 2 p.m. We had hair and makeup done by Salon Tribeca and attended a VIP cocktail reception. As the venue filled up, we waited in the green room which was such an odd experience for me. I’m so used to being the one producing the event and checking on the people in the green room it felt weird to be the one being pampered. I felt like a movie star!

As the show began, I was a little nervous about walking in my heels. When I heard my video begin playing and WSOC’s Natalie Pasquarella announce me, I headed to the stage and it was a rush. It was all about having fun and making it your own. As I strutted down the catwalk my fan section – my husband, Chuck; best friends Kara and Kelly; and sister Jeslyn and husband Mark – cheered me on.

Effie Loukas produced the show and did a great job. From an event perspective, it was never chaotic and everyone always seemed relaxed and in the know. It was a professional and well-executed event.

It was wonderful to be part of such an incredible event. The best part was the people I met and learning their stories. You can only walk once in the fashion show, but I will be back every year from now on to watch others strut their stuff and tell their story.

– Jacqueline Gafrarar

Jacqueline Gafrarar, American Cancer Society, Cure by Design, Jim Merrill, Moira Quinn, Charlotte Center City Partners, Vestique, Fillmore, Salon Tribeca, WSOC, Natalie Pasquarella, Effie Loukas