Arc of Livingston models hit the runway during Thursday fundraiser

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Thursday’s Celebrity Holiday Fashion Show, sponsored by the Arc of Livingston, is both a celebration and, organizers hope, plenty of fun.

The event will be held Thursday from 6-9 p.m. at Crystal Gardens in Genoa Township.

Steve Garagiola of WDIV-TV (Channel 4) in Detroit will be the emcee as models including newly elected Livingston County sheriff Mike Murphy, writer Mona Shand, Larry Prout Jr., whose story on joining the U-M football team captured hearts and imaginations last month, and J.T. Rogan, who is Jim Harbaugh’s right-hand man dress in a theme called “Holiday Best.”

“It’s a celebration of the people we serve and the community that helps us bring to light the empowerment of people with developmental disabilities,” said Anne Richardson, the Arc of Livingston’s executive director.

Adults and children will be on hand to model clothes from area merchants during Thursday's Celebrity Holiday Fashion Show, sponsored by the Arc of Livingston. (Submitted photo)
Adults and children will be on hand to model clothes from area merchants during Thursday’s Celebrity Holiday Fashion Show, sponsored by the Arc of Livingston. (Submitted photo)

The fashion show is the Arc’s main fundraiser for the year and, as Richardson said, a chance to thank the community while also providing the chance to win prizes including a 52-inch TV, a vacation in the Bahamas, tickets to Walt Disney World, a fishing trip on Lake St. Clair, a rooftop party during next June’s Freedom Fireworks in downtown Detroit, and other prizes.

A raffle and silent auction are also planned.

Arc of Livingston also will present its Arc Angel awards at the event. This year’s honorees are Gwen Haggerty-Bearden and Steve Bearden,

“They are receiving this award because of what they’ve done for the Arc,” Richardson said. “They have worked really hard to help us further our mission and help those families who have kids in special ed.”

Those kids are the Arc of Livingston’s focus.

“We all have a family member who has a disability,” Richardson said. “So when people  call for help, we have that experience to draw on. We have parent groups that meet once a month. We bring trainers in to hold workshops to give families and individuals more information on disability-related subjects, special education and community mental health, how to navigate those systems in order to get your needs met. That’s the bulk of what we do.”

The Arc of Livingston has five employees, none of them full-time. But it does have a strong corps of volunteers who have been, among other things, working on putting Thursday’s event together.

“The fashion show has a core committee of seven people,” Richardson said. “We have maybe 30 volunteers who work together for the evening, and we have people who try to go out and procure items and help us get ads in the program and get donors as well. It’s a lot of people.”

The models will wear clothing from Beverly Rae’s Women’s Apparel, The Clothing Cove, Tailoring Unlimited and the Brighton Tux Shop. Cooper & Binkley Jewelers is supplying both jewelry for the models and for the raffles.

It’s the 23rd annual fashion show for the Arc of Livingston, with most of them at Crystal Gardens. While the group gets funding from, and has an office in a building owned by, the United Way of Livingston County, the fashion show is its major fundraiser, with upwards of 400 people expected.

The money goes to fund the Arc’s advocacy programs, its representative payee program and its send-a-kid-to-camp program. The camp program also includes recreational activities as well, with an escort if needed along with whatever equipment is needed for the activity.

“It’s been pretty successful,” Richardson said of the fashion show.

Asked if there was a sense of accomplishment mixed with relief at the end of Thursday, Richardson smiled.

“There is when it’s done,” she said. “But it’s exciting to see the community pull together for something it feels is important.”