About 40 models in wheelchairs will do a little turn on the catwalk April 9 at the “This is How We Roll” Fashion Show at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Brookfield.
The Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation is hosting the fourth annual event to raise money for paralysis research and assistance. The models will range in age from 5 to 70, are mostly Wisconsin residents, and all have either experienced a spinal cord injury or have a disability that prevents them from walking, said Janet Curtis, director of development at BRPF.
BRPF expects about 500 attendees, and has set a $30,000 fundraising goal for the event. Last year, the organization raised $27,000 from 400 attendees.
“The first year, I think we raised either $8,000 or $10,000, so we’ve come quite a long way for the fourth one,” Curtis said. “It’s a very emotional and inspirational event and its just really cool.”
BRPF gives out about $200,000 per year in research grants, often to Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin, but also to other promising research projects across the country, Curtis said. Sometimes, the research organizations are able to leverage BRPF seed funding into much larger grants from the National Institutes of Health.
BRPF also provides charitable grants to those who have experienced paralysis, to help them install ramps and purchase wheelchairs, as well as scholarships for their education.
Maurices, Tadpoles, Boston Store, Dressbarn and Van Heusen will donate or lend clothing for the models, she said. The major event sponsors are Meade Electric Co., R&R Insurance Services Inc., Church and Chapel Funeral Homes, Bruno Independent Living Aids Inc. and Embassy Suites.
Miss Wisconsin Courtney Pelot and Luke Bebeau of The Boogie Men will co-host the fashion show, which also raises awareness of wheelchair accessibility and inclusion, and the importance of medical research.
The event will be held Sunday, April 9, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Embassy Suites, 1200 S. Moorland Road in Brookfield. Seating and raffle begin at 2 p.m., and the fashion show begins at 3 p.m.