The Equest Women’s Auxiliary’s (WAUX) Fashion Show and Luncheon on Tuesday, October 3, turned out to be a celebration for a youngster who had gone from needing a walker to walking the runway on her own and receiving a standing ovation at Brook Hollow.
But moments before that took place, the Equest mini-ambassadors Dare and Ranger greeted guests in the driveway and posed time and time again for selfies. Across the way in the center lawn, Equest therapy horses Artie and Amigo took their stands for photos.
As raffle tickets were being snapped up in the driveway and the entry to the club, Fashion Producer Jan Strimple was going through the plan of the day in the ballroom.
Thanks to the sold-out status, luncheon tables with Garden Gate centerpieces extended from the Verandah to the Oak Room.
Settling into her place on the front row was Honorary Co-Chair Beth Layton, who was moving a bit more slowly that usual due to a recent fall. Luckily, Honorary Co-Chair/Beth’s daughter Katie Oster was on hand to support mom.
Missing in the usual show of support was Nancy Carter due to a scheduled appointment for husband Gene Carter.
On the other hand, Vicki Chapman was enjoying the photos of granddaughter Lucille Bellemare, who will be celebrating her third birthday in early November.
As the guests like Lisa Ogle, Lisa Cooley, Tracy Lange, Amy Prestidge, Annie Griffeth, Heather Washburne and her Highland Park Village girl fashion squad (Victoria Snee, Isabel Miller, Kate Kutilek Leyendecker and Caroline Ross), Marjon Henderson, Sunie Solomon and Amy Turner started heading to the ballroom for the day’s presentation of Highland Park fashions from Etro, Herrera, LoveShackFancy, Market, Lela Rose, Simkhai and Veronica Beard, Equest CEO Myrshem George and newly named Equest Senior Director of Advancement Malcolm Hodge prepared for their Equest WAUX Fashion Show.
Once the program got underway with a welcome by Equest WAUX President Katherine Wyker, the invocation by Highland Park Presbyterian Director of Mobilization Caroline Krause and a thank-you by Luncheon Chair Kimber Hartmann showering special thanks for Underwriting Chair Shannon Graham, a video was shown highlighting clients and staffers who had been part of the equine therapy program. Standing against the wall taking it all in was Equest Founder Susan Schwartz.
Following the video, a very tearful presentation was made by Caitlin Laughlin commemorating the impact of Equest on her nine-year-old daughter Elizabeth Laughlin, who, despite suffering from cerebral palsy, had made simply remarkable progress.
For those who had attended the fashion show in previous years, seeing Elizabeth progress from no longer needing a walker made them realize all too well how true Caitlin’s words were.
After a hug of thanks for Caitlin by Myrshem, who had reminded guests of the Equest mission, WAUX Founder Louise Griffeth recognized longtime Equest supporters Prissy Gravely and her daughter Cara French, who were presented with the Community Service Award.
It was then time for the fashion show to get underway.
While all things moved smoothly, it was during LoveShackFancy’s parade of youngsters (Hannah Canete, Molly Losinger, Molly Cox, Quinn Conlon, Sam Somerville, Iver Campbell, Lillian White, Caroline Doramus, Georgina Doramus, Jackson Wyker, Avery Lesikar, Ashley Lesikar and Elizabeth with her kid sister Annie Laughlin) that one of the planned pairings did not take place. At one point a young gal delayed her walk just slightly, due to her partner’s refusal to accompany her. That was soon forgotten due to her solo walk — but more about that later.
Grandmothers and mothers celebrated the youngsters by saluting them walking the catwalk with cellphones raised high and taping.
As the final twosome of Elizabeth and Annie hit the elevated runway like old pros, the entire ballroom of guests, including the children’s mothers like Natalie Lesikar and grandmothers like Robyn Conlon, Sarah Losinger and Equest Co-Chair Lisa Loy Laughlin, rose from their chairs to applaud the youngsters.
While it had been planned for the Laughlin sisters to be the closers for the LoveShackFancy segment, one father suddenly appeared at the head of the runway holding his toddler son. Evidently, the youngster was the one who had held back from walking with his partner earlier.
Instead of simply taking a father-son bow and exiting, the father decided to take his two-year-old the full length of the runway, much to the boy’s disappointment. It was apparent from the child’s unhappy squirming and facial expressions that, once again, he didn’t want to be a part of the day’s presentation — despite his father’s decision to press on.
While some in the audience laughed, relating to parental frustrations in dealing with an unhappy youngster, others admitted that it made them feel uncomfortable seeing such a stressed-out child.
For a look at all the fashions and kids on the runway, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.