Last week, the MoPOP in Seattle became a glamorous gateway to fashion and fun that benefited Seattle Children’s Strong Against Cancer, a national philanthropic initiative with worldwide implications for potentially curing childhood cancers without the harmful affects of chemotherapy or radiation.
In partnership with Alaska Airlines, renowned fashion designer and Seattle Children’s supporter Luly Yang presented a fashion show to unveil her new collection, while generously sharing the runway spotlight with honored guests representing the important cause.
The show was kicked off by three pint-sized models – 4-year-old Greta Oberhofer, 5-year-old Lucy Watters and 7-year-old Mason Nettleton – each a courageous cancer fighter.
Alaska Airlines paired three of their pilots and captains with each of the kids as they individually strutted down the runway in their custom-made ensembles designed by Yang.
From battling cancer to conquering the runway
Greta was first to take the stage in a frilly mint green dress.
“Luly designed the dress to match her favorite color,” said Greta’s mom Maggie Oberhofer. “Wearing the dress and walking in the show is a special experience not only for Greta, but our whole family. She’s getting the opportunity to go out there and show the healthy kid she has become.”
Four-year-old Greta, diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just 3 months old and then relapsed again at 1 years old, became cancer-free after undergoing an experimental therapy at Seattle Children’s that uses a patient’s own, reprogrammed immune cells to seek and destroy cancer, called T-cell immunotherapy. In just a few weeks after she was infused with her new and improved T cells, she achieved complete remission.
Lucy Watters was the second little model to take the stage. Like Greta, she also received T-cell immunotherapy and after undergoing a subsequent bone marrow transplant, she achieved remission.
Dressed fittingly in Strong Against Cancer-inspired purple, Lucy chose to show off her flowy gown by doing dainty twists and twirls at the end of the runway.
“Lucy feels like such a princess,” said her mom, Nicole Watters. “With everything she’s been through, it’s beautiful to see her participate in something that’s so meaningful to us. No child should have to endure what Lucy has endured, so my hope is with events like this, which raise awareness and funding for further research, other kids won’t have to.”
The last adorable survivor to walk the runway was Mason Nettleton. Dressed dapperly in a coordinating vest and pants outfit complete with a bowtie, Mason paraded down the runway with energetic confidence.
“He’s certainly not a shy kid,” said Mason’s mom, Briana Nettleton. “Mason loves socializing with people and he’s always trying to spread the message of giving back to help other kids with cancer.”
Mason was diagnosed with kidney cancer when he was 4 years old. He had his right kidney removed and underwent extensive chemotherapy, which eventually led him to remission. Although her son didn’t undergo T-cell immunotherapy, Nettleton is a committed supporter of the therapy knowing it will potentially open doors to new treatment possibilities for children with various forms of cancer.
Taking a few notes from Mason’s model swagger, the final guest to step on stage was none other than Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. He frequently visits patients at the hospital and serves as Strong Against Cancer’s Team Captain, supporting the initiative through his own Why Not You Foundation.
For the grand finale, Wilson cheerfully walked hand-in-hand down the runway with all three of the courageous kids. As they reached the end, they threw up their arms into Strong Against Cancer’s signature flex pose to represent their ongoing fight to beat childhood cancer.
At the end of the night, the event had successfully raised over $50,000.
“The pediatric cancer research being done at Seattle Children’s wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our community,” said Dr. Jeff Sperring, chief executive officer of Seattle Children’s who spoke during the special evening. “The incredible donations collected at events like this help us to accelerate clinical trials and forge the path towards potentially finding a cure for children with cancer.”