A spirited and self-motivated group of York University students helped to raise over $10,000 for breast cancer research by organizing the Pink Positive on the Catwalk fashion show. The event, which was attended by 600 people, took place on May 10 at the Julius Roman Empire Banquet Hall on Finch Avenue near the Keele campus.
“We wanted to bring the community together to raise money for breast cancer, and the event exceeded all the goals that we made for ourselves,” says York University undergraduate Nicole Marin, who was one of three York students on the five-member Pink Positive organizing committee.
Right: York University student Nicole Marin (left) and Ryerson University student Patrizia Cornacchia, two of the five organizers of the fashion show
Marin, who is studying political science and law & society, and fellow York undergrads, Kassia Da Silva and Mary Russo, along with two other friends, Seneca College graduate Josie Russo and Ryerson University student Patrizia Cornacchia, galvanized a group of 50 people, many of them York students, to get involved.
Marin says the idea to host a fundraiser for breast cancer arose after she and her friends participated in the Gift of Life Walk for Leukemia earlier this year. “We decided that we wanted to do something bigger that could raise more money to find a cure for cancer.
They chose to donate the proceeds from Pink Positive on the Catwalk to the Princess Margaret Hospital’s Weekend to End Breast Cancer Fund because “we figured that being five girls…it [breast cancer] can affect guys, but mainly affects women, and if we don’t want to have the disease, we should take the initiative to stop it,” says Marin.
No one in the group had any experience organizing such a fundraiser before, but they put their collective thinking caps on. Each of the five committee members shared her suggestions on what, in her opinion, would make the event a success, and they prepared an action plan.
Left: Models Emma Marin and Josie Russo (one of the show organizers) performing on the catwalk
“We sold pink cancer ribbons for one dollar each to help in our initial fund-raising initiatives. This campaign allowed us to raise money in the beginning to help offset the costs of the Pink Positive on the Catwalk fashion show,” says Marin.
They approached local retailers Vesta Me, Per Lui, Nike, Old Navy, Jean Machine, i Optika, Denim 101 and Joanne by Design, who agreed to let them use their clothes and products for the show in exchange for advertising.
The event was heavily advertised on Humber College Radio, through 120 radio spots that the station provided free of charge, and was largely marketed to York students, says Marin. “We sold tickets at tutorials and lectures,” she says.
The $20 ticket price ($15 for children) included a free dessert bar and the main attraction, a seven-scene fashion show with an intermission.
In the hall where the show took place, 10 different vendors sold a variety of products geared to fashionistas, such as handbags and shoes. This element of the event was well received and generated $600 of the total raised, says Marin.
Right: Fashion show models wearing Pink Positive on the Catwalk t-shirts
Attendees also received free gift bags with donated products.
The success of the Pink Positive on the Catwalk fashion show has gotten Marin thinking about organizing a similar event next year. “I think this will be an annual way of fundraising," she says.
Story by Olena Wawryshyn, York communications officer