Dressed to the nines, 34 models scored a perfect 10 with audience members at the third annual Uniquely Fashionable Fashion Show at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.
The event is one of the highlights of the year for the DragonFly Pond Family Society which supports families with children who have complex care and/or special needs.
“I got Addie involved in DragonFly specifically because she has Down syndrome,” said proud parent Kylie Harris about her six-year-old daughter, who was one of the models this year. “She doesn’t really understand that it’s a fashion show but I know she’s super excited. She loves the stage, she loves her outfit, she loves all the people, she just loves everything. She’s just really happy to be here.”
And Addie didn’t waste any time stealing the hearts of the packed house as she walked down the runway in her pink dress and bright pink boots hand-in-hand with Miss Penticton Lily Eggert.
Then to the clapping and cheers of onlookers she initiated a dance with her escort before happily leaving the stage.
“Of course her dad and her grandpa couldn’t be happier to be here with us,” said Harris.
“It’s a great social group (DragonFly Pond) for her, there’s a lot of support, she’s really happy and she’s made lots of friends. It’s a really great program and it’s really opened up a lot of doors for her.”
Sherry and Brent Medernach also had two children in the show.
“I don’t think they quite know what’s happening but it’s just something they can do that makes them feel proud and happy,” said Sherry. “They love to dress up and wear nice things, they’re really excited to be a part of this and it’s something special today.”
According to show co-ordinator Traci Fladager, the event is something she especially looks forward to.
“This event is not only exciting for the children but for the whole family because they have a chance to come out and support and celebrate their children,” said Fladager, a volunteer for Dragonfly Pond. “Most families have children that are in hockey or dance that they get to go watch but when you have a child with disability they’re really limited on events they can participate in. This is a nice event that everybody can come to.
“The community can come to to see how much potential these models and kids have.”
A number of siblings of the DragonFly Pond kids also modelled the outfits which all the children got to keep after the show thanks to the support of sponsors including the United Way of the Central and South Okanagan, Youth Initiative Grant, Hudson’s Bay and a number of local fundraising events.
They also had hair, makeup and photographs by professionals. The photos are used to create a calendar that models, volunteers and community supporters receive afterwards.
DragonFly Pond was started in 2000 and has since grown to help youth from ages 0-18 throughout the South Okanagan-Similkameen and even includes a respite for member parents for an evening out.
They also offer a variety of other programs throughout the year for families and children.