Runway for Hope raised funds to help support a local Children’s hospital. Photo: Remi Yuan.
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Runway For Hope holds its sixth charity fashion show

The Runway For Hope fashion show, dedicated to promoting local designers and raising funds for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), held its sixth annual show at Lansdowne Park on Sept. 25. This year’s event showcased 19 local designers, 27 local vendors, and performances by Ottawa-centric singers and dancers.

“Our goal is just to promote local fashion—designers and models and the whole fashion industry in Ottawa,” explains Valerie Doyon, a second-year biomedical science student at University of Ottawa, who volunteered backstage at this year’s show.

The bi-annual event has grown “bigger and bigger every year,” Doyon says. This year, Ottawa Redblacks cheerleaders even made an appearance.

Doyon adds that, for most of the designers, it is their first time participating in Runway For Hope. “They’re not returning designers … It’s really cool because you get to see new stuff every year.”

Sunday’s show featured a variety of designs ranging from the practical to the quirky. Highlights included glittery ensembles by Amira & Nasreen, and Sabrina Oxford’s fairytale-esque capes.

“You wouldn’t think of (Ottawa) as a fashion capital,” Doyon acknowledges, although she still believes the capital region is home to many talented designers and stylists. “We like to throw something to help them out, especially all the ones coming right out of college.”

Doyon is currently planning the next edition of Runway For Hope, which will be held at Tabaret Hall and feature more U of O student talent. 

All profits from the show are donated to the CHEO, with this year’s donations focusing on cancer research.

“We wanted to help raise money for a good cause, and raising money for kids is always a good cause,” says event coordinator and backstage manager Josie Vilna, who is in her fourth year of civil engineering at the U of O.

Each show generally raises between $2,000 and $3,000, but the organizers plan to move to a larger location for future shows so they can sell more tickets and bring in more money for the hospital.

Having suffered from asthma as a child, Vilna “spent a lot of time in the hospital” and witnessed firsthand the impact that medical research had on her treatment. These personal experiences, as well as her interest in the fashion industry—she modelled in an earlier incarnation of the show before moving into management—are why she is so passionate about Runway For Hope.

“It’s a great thing when you raise money for good causes,” Vilna says. “That’s all we are about—and great designs too.”