Jane LaPoint of Saco, Maine could barely speak -- her emotions kept getting in the way. She took a deep breath, choked back the tears and said in a soft voice, “It was amazing…this fashion show proves we are bigger than our diagnosis.”
LaPoint was one of eleven women modeling in the first-ever Maine Fashion Plates Fashion Show and Luncheon, held at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, October 16th. All the models were women from Maine living with multiple sclerosis.
“It was so empowering,” said fellow model Donna McGrew of Cape Elizabeth. She and her sister both have the disease. “You just feel so pretty,” she said after the show. “It was ok to be sick.”
Amy Littell of Waterboro proudly walked the runway showing off her model figure and tattooed covered arms. She’s been living with MS for 26 years.
“It was exhilarating,” she said. She hopes the people in the audience saw “the strength, courage, and beauty” of the models.
More than 200 people turned out for the inaugural event, presented by Maine Medical Center and Bon Ton – The Maine Mall. The show raised more than $20,000 for the National MS Society. The Society funds cutting-edge MS research and provides services to the 3,000 people in Maine living with MS.
The organization has been hosting Fashion Plates in Boston successfully for a number of years, and this year decided to expand it to Maine.
“It was a big success,” said Sue Tidd, the Society’s Director of Development in Maine. “Attendees were inspired by these amazing, strong Maine women with multiple sclerosis, not to mention the dazzling array of outfits from Bon Ton, Chico’s, Soma and David’s Bridal.”
The models themselves were amazed at how they reacted to each other.
“It was so emotional,” said Kristi Fowler of Dedham. “There are no words [to describe it]; we have just become such wonderful friends in an instant.”
Littell said she was surprised by, “how connected I feel to the other women. It’s like coming home.”
“I loved it,” said Carla Caron of Winslow. “I can't even tell you the feeling I had -- it was from the center of my soul. I feel so loved today and special.”
Many of the models had tears in their eyes as they walked the runway together for the finale. They joined hands to take a bow together, and then raised their arms in a show of strength and unity.
Photo © Sarah Buckley
“It was phenomenal, just magical,” said a breathless Mary Yokabaskas of New Harbor. “I've met wonderful friends; these are women I'll be friends with forever.”
The models said they’ve made a pack to come back for Maine Fashion Plates 2015. The date is already set for October 9, 2015.
For more information go to: www.MSnewengland.org.