Fashion with Compassion to feature Sylvan Lake resident

Fashion with Compassion is swinging back into action this year and Sylvan Lake’s Virginia Lynn, a cancer survivor, will dazzle

Fashion with Compassion is swinging back into action this year and Sylvan Lake’s Virginia Lynn, a cancer survivor, will dazzle the audience as she models in the high-end fashion show in support of Sorrentino’s Compassion House in Edmonton later this month.

Lynn previously stayed in the house, which opened in 2002 to provide a place to stay for women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

She’s excited to be walking on the stage modelling the clothes she has picked out, all in support of the house.

“I am really excited, they treat you so nicely,” she said. “We get our hair and makeup done and we choose the outfits we will wear. It will be a lovely thing to do.”

The two-part event will take place at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on Oct. 30. A luncheon will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30p.m., a reception at 6:00 p.m. and a dinner and fashion show at 7:00p.m.

At the reception people can mingle, bid on auction items and buy raffle tickets, before enjoying a dinner including a dessert buffet, a speech from a breast cancer survivor and a fashion show.

This year the Compassion House Foundation has a new partnership with West Edmonton Mall. Luxury brands such as DKNY, Top Shop and Hugo Boss for Men will be showcased at the event.

Last year about 1,350 people attended the luncheon and evening program, and raised a net total of $180,000.

This year the foundation expects 1,400 people to come and the foundation’s fundraising goal is a net $200,000.

“It’s a high-end event and helps raise money so that we can continue operating the Sorrentino’s Compassion House,” said Compassion House Foundation executive director Mellissa Kraft. “We’re a small organization and we pull off this huge event in the city. We’re always trying to do something different each year or put a new twist on it.”

Treatment generally lasts for five weeks, and the house provides women a place to stay at a reduced cost of $25 per person per night. Operating costs for the foundation are $125 per person per night.

“We have to fund that extra $100 per guest, so Fashion with Compassion is really important for our fundraising efforts so we can keep guests fees at a reasonable rate,” said Kraft. “If you had to stay at a hotel it would be very expensive and really lonely.”

The house not only charges its guests a reduced living rate, the women who stay there live within a friendly atmosphere where they can support each other through the journey of going through cancer treatment.

Lynn shared what it was like to stay at the house while going through her own treatment.

“It was a tremendous experience, I met other women going through treatment and everything except food was provided for us which is understandable, but they had gorgeous kitchens and everyone had their own space,” she said.

She added that no matter what age you are, going through cancer treatment creates worry about family such as children and grandchildren.

The facility, she said, helped to alleviate that worry as everything was planned for the comfort of the women.

“When the ladies stay here they meet other ladies who are going through the same thing, so they are not alone in their cancer journey,” She said. “It makes it better than staying in a hotel room all by yourself.”

Former guests of the house will make an appearance in the fashion show by stepping onto the runway and modelling fashionable clothes — an act that can be very nerve racking, especially after going through cancer treatment, said Kraft.

“The first time they step out they are so nervous because they may have had a breast or two removed, they may have lost their hair or maybe their body has changed from the drugs they were on for cancer treatment, so they are nervous to model,” she said. “But when they come on stage they are overwhelmed with people cheering for them and giving them a standing ovation.”