Strut for a Cause
Senior Liliana Peralta at the "Strut for a Cause" event. (Photo by Margaret Okakpu)

by Brittany Ambrosino

Seniors Gabrielle Fanizzi and Steven Saverino hosted Strut for a Cause, a fashion show to raise awareness and money for the Juvenielle Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), on Thursday, April 3.  The event was a part of the public relations majors’ senior thesis project. It featured a two-part fashion show with food and raffles.

The night’s special guest was Alexis Brown, Fanizzi’s best friend who suffers from Type I diabetes.

The night started off with the first part of the fashion show. Fanizzi and Saverino came out on stage to welcome everyone to the event. A brief video from JDRF was shown to explain diabetes and instruct how we can all help the fight against it.

The lights dimmed and the music blared as the models began to strut down the runway. The first set of looks were cute and casual.

After a short intermission, the event continued with another video from JDRF. The next set of looks were dressier and night-time appropriate. Each model brought something different when it came to their poses and walks down the runway.

After the show ended, guests helped themselves to sandwiches and crudité as they purchased last-minute raffles. Raffle prizes ranged from gift cards for local vendors, such as Alexis Dinner, Billy Joe’s Ribworks, and Muscle Maker Grill, to corporate stores such as Express, Forever 21, Zara, and H&M.

Saverino and Fanizzi raised $1,400 for JDRF, a number that triples their original $500 goal.

Mount Messenger got the official scoop from the event planners themselves:

MM: How did the two of you come up with the idea for Strut for a Cause?

GF: Steven and I met at the Meet a Mentor Dinner last year sponsored by the Career Center. We both were talking about senior year and what project we were thinking of doing and we found out we both really wanted to work with fashion! That was our commonality. So we decided right then and there we were going to do a fashion show and we wanted it to benefit and organization. The rest is now history.


MM: What does JDRF mean to the both of you and why did you choose it as your charity?

GF: JDRF means a lot to me. My best friend, our featured guest of the night, Alexis Brown is a Type 1 diabetic. I’ve seen her struggle with the disease for years and it truly breaks my heart that there’s virtually nothing I can do to help her besides lend my support and help whenever I can. I thought this event could almost be a thank you to her for being there for me through my struggles and to show her this is my way of helping her too. It’s truly a crazy disease that can come out of nowhere and JDRF is such a huge part of hoping that one day Type 1 becomes type none.


MM: What was the best and/or most fun part of doing Strut for a Cause?

GF: I have to say our event was super fun to be apart of, but my favorite part had to be styling and picking out the clothes that were going to be coming down our runway.I want to be a stylist at some point in my career and just having the ability to work with clothes was so rewarding! I love fashion! I really do!


MM: What was the hardest obstacles you guys had to face when putting the event together?

GF: I think the hardest obstacle was having people give us the respect and professional attitude that we brought to this event because many people look at us and say, “oh it’s just a bunch of rowdy college kids, they don’t take anything seriously.” But we really did take this seriously and chose to view it as a job rather than an assignment. It was our goal to finish it I think just having people shake our hands and get on board with our event was the best feeling because we felt like we beat the “college kid” mentality.


MM: How do you think Strut for a Cause went as a whole? Is there anything you would’ve changed?

GF: Our event was above and beyond our expectations, truly, in every aspect. We exceeded our financial goals, we met our attendance goal and the most amazing feeling was having people come up to us and tell us just how much they enjoyed the entire event. I think it went incredibly well. I think the only thing I would’ve like to have done differently is timing of things, but I’m just a perfectionist and a detail freak.


MM: What advice would you give to future public relations students when facing their senior thesis projects?

GF: The best advice I can offer is choose a project that really means something to you. Something you enjoy and are passionate about. It’s the only way it’ll work. It’s the only way to “sell” your event. If you don’t believe in yourself and your event/project, why would anyone else? You have to know what you want and why you want to do that. Take charge and just do your very best!