Pink Ribbon Society makes fashion statement


The Pink Ribbon Society’s first Pink Pearl Style Show made more than a fashion statement Sunday at Avalon Manor Banquet Center.

Breast cancer survivors and Pink Ribbon Society supporters modeled women’s and men’s active wear, swimsuits and clothing from Crown Point’s Studio Barre, Isabella Boutique in Valparaiso, John Cicco’s Menwear in Merrillville and Valparaiso’s Seasons on the Square.

Sharing stories and the philosophies of those female and male models who have survived breast cancer provided inspiration for the hundreds of guests attending the luncheon event.

“When Pink Ribbon Society was first organized, a choice was made to keep all funds raised in our local community to support the men and women of Lake, Porter, Jasper and Newton counties whose lives have been touched by breast cancer,” said Ann M. Peters, founder/president of the Pink Ribbon Society and a 39-year survivor of what was originally diagnosed in 1977 as terminal breast cancer.

“We are eternally hopeful that a cure for breast cancer will be found,” Peters said.

“However, we are very aware of the immediate needs of those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer right here in our own communities. Mammograms, prostheses, wigs and other kinds of support are needed today,” she said about the more than $300,000 the Pink Ribbon Society has returned to individuals and organizations in the community.

Cathy Huta, of St. John, and Pink Ribbon Calendar Girl Ms. February 2015, modeled fashions from Seasons on the Square.

“Creating a new norm now that your body is different,” is Huta’s philosophy, said Donna Phelps, of the Valparaiso store, during the five-year breast cancer survivor’s walk along the runway.

“Just remember you can beat it,” was the message from Pat Riese, of Griffith, as she modeled several outfits from Seasons on the Square.Brunhilde Wahlers, of Dune Acres, and a 23-year breast cancer survivor, and 10-year breast cancer survivor Victoria Grist, of Schererville, modeled swim wear from Isabella Boutique.

“These are wonderful women,” said Tammy Zosso of the boutique about the models, adding that Grist is completing her master’s degree in addiction therapy while as a cancer survivor Wahler “loves life and enjoys every minute of it.”

Marnita Taylor, of Merrillville, had her cheering section at the style show.

“Work it,” said one young woman at Taylor’s table as the five-year breast cancer survivor and Calendar Girl Ms April 2016 walked the runway.Between 1 and 2 percent of all those diagnosed with breast cancer are men, Peters said.

One of the men showing fashions from John Ciccio’s Menswear, Thomas Byerly, of Valparaiso, knows that. In September, he will be a five-year breast cancer survivor and was honored as Mr. January 2015 in the Pink Ribbon calendar.

“He and his wife are empty nesters, and he loves playing Santa,” said John Cicco’s Tina Popp about Byerly, who sports a long, white beard.Joe Battistoni, vice president of sales at The Times Media Co., also served as one of the models.

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