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A runway for Haiti

BY JOSIE JONES | APRIL 15, 2010 7:30 AM

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Molly Blabolil has always had a “passion for fashion.”

Today, she’ll combine that love with a little philanthropy and help from friend Courtney Cunniff to put on a fundraiser fashion show for an orphanage in Haiti.

“We want to at least make a small difference in a big issue,” said Blabolil, 22.

“Runway for Hope” will begin at 7 p.m. today at hotelVetro, 201 S. Linn St. An hour-long cocktail reception will precede the fashion show, which will start at 8 p.m. and run for 35 to 40 minutes. Admission is $10.

“Around Iowa City, there aren’t many events and outlets like [a fashion show],” Blabolil said, adding it would be a good way to unite students and community members.

All of the proceeds raised by Runway for Hope will go directly to Answered Prayers — a non-profit humanitarian aid corporation based in Washington. The organization’s website says it is involved with three orphanage houses and “other ministries in Haiti.”

Blabolil and Cunniff said the fundraiser will help orphan recovery rather than Haitian relief in general.

The United Nations reported in February that more than 3 million people, or one in every three Haitians, were “severely affected by the earthquake” and two-thirds needed “regular food aid.”

More than 1.1 million people were homeless, according to the organization.

After developing the idea the two set out to find supporters for their project. Discouraged at first, Blabolil and Cunniff’s dedication paid off when various downtown boutiques — such as Dulcinéa, Revival, and LYLAS — agreed to each donate four to six outfits for the fashion show.

“It was a ripple effect of everyone being so excited and so willing,” Blabolil said. “It made me realize how giving Iowa City is.”

Runway for Hope will show 45 outfits highlighting spring and summer fashions. Twenty-two models, ranging from sophomore to senior UI students, will walk the 30-foot runway accompanied by upbeat techno music provided by Ultimate Entertainment.

The models are paired with the boutiques to create outfits that are fun and flirty, Cunniff said. The only accessory not being provided by the sponsors are shoes. A raffle will give away items such as Chicago White Sox tickets, Starbucks gift cards, and GirlTalk and Wale tickets, among other items.

With a variety of offerings, the two feel Runway for Hope is an event that involves the entire community.

“A fashion show is a forum for a fun gathering,” said Cunniff, 21. “It’s not something that happens every day here — it’s a unique event.”

Blabolil and Cunniff knew a fashion show would be a difficult event to plan, but the seniors were motivated by the Haitian recovery efforts.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to be proactive,” Blabolil said. “There’s always something happening, and there’s always something you can do to help out.”

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