As junior Haley Royer stood up to start the show, she took a moment to examine the crowd. After six and a half months of planning, the Chi Omega philanthropy director realized her work had paid off: the Work it For Wishes fashion show was packed. Packed might even be an understatement. Almost 400 people came to Wycliff House to support the Zeta Gamma chapter as they strived to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, leaving a line of people stretching two blocks down the street. Raffle tickets sold out in 15 minutes. Every seat, corner, wall and even window was filled.
The Work it For Wishes fashion show is a tradition at only a handful of Chi Omega chapters. Regardless of its rarity, the Zeta Gamma chapter raises thousands from the show alone each year. This year, they shattered attendance records and quadrupled the previous record of money raised. A total of $10,000 was raised for Make-A-Wish. In other words, enough money was raised to grant a wish.
The event was made possible by 18 sponsors and clothing donations from local boutiques. It featured models from all fraternities and sororities, beginning the show with sassy walks, chic suits and colorful dresses.
Despite all of this, the special people of the evening were the final five models: Make-A-Wish children strutting the runway in outfits from Blush and Radical Rags. The Wish children were adorned with claps and smiles as they catwalked for the finale. It was an emotional moment for the crowd, who held back tears as they took in a rare opportunity to see who their donations were going toward. The most memorable moments of the night took place in these delicate few minutes, when Travis, Ainsley, Jordan, Kara and Alexa got to be the stars.
“This position has definitely showed me that there’s so much more to live for,” Royer said. “These little kids can teach us so much because I know we can get so stressed with planning these events… but it’s for the kids in the long run. It’s their special day to know that they’re not sick and they’re not different and they have a home here with us.”
Make-A-Wish’s partnership with the Chi Omega chapter at the College has granted each of the five’s wish. Whether it be modeling in New York City or visiting Disney World in Orlando, the Zeta Gamma chapter’s depends on the annual fashion show as the biggest fundraiser in making these local kids’ dreams come true.
The chapter granted Travis’s wish last December, sending him to Disney World. Royer planned his big send off party and even personally baked him a giant Mickey Mouse cake. These parties are a chapter tradition with massive attendance from Chi Omegas as well as all from the child’s friends and family. They help solidify the relationship that the chapter keeps with the kids throughout their treatment and in the years to come.
“We just shower him in presents and our affection and everything, we show him how much Chi Omega wants to be here throughout the process,” Royer said. “And it’s really special to us because we get to see the kids throughout the years… that we get to kind of watch the kids grow up and progress in their treatment and get better.”
Royer and the chapter do more than just be there for the children’s treatment processes: they give them hope. Their donations to grant wishes can actually help the child’s physical condition. Royer realized this after she received an email from Travis’s mother after their Disney trip.
“He met Tinkerbell and this is literally his words, that his mother told me, that she sprinkled her magic pixie dust on him and he was better,” Royer said. “And then after that, after experiencing that, he stopped using his walker, he stopped using his wheelchair. He was walking around just with some of his crutches for like a month.”
The support that Chi Omega lends to these children gives them strength and happiness despite sometimes terminal illness. The annual fashion show gives them an opportunity to walk a runway surrounded with love and support at an event thrown in their honor. The fundraiser successfully fosters philanthropy and fun, as well as an opportunity for the Greek and non-Greek community to come together to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Work it For Wishes stands for more than just fashion trends: it stands for hope.