Dress Up for Downs fashion show raises $3,000

A clapboard sits on the table outside the auditorium in Hall. 

Ella Abbott

Dress Up for Downs raised $3,000 for the Upside of Downs Saturday night through the organization’s annual fashion show.

Dress Up for Downs is a student organization created by a junior fashion design major, Sarah Petit, during her freshman year which creates clothes properly tailored and age appropriate for community members with Down Syndrome.

“I emailed all of the students in all of my classes,” Petit said. “And I got an overwhelming response from the students. So, within a week, we had a club set up.”

The fashion show is a chance for designers to show garments created with a specific model in mind. All of the models are people from the surrounding area with Down syndrome.

“I just sort of went to the first meeting and ended up loving it,” said Madeline Abfalter, a freshman fashion design student who created outfits for the show. “It was really fun to see the models and see how they reacted with it.”

The organization uses ticket sales to donate to the Upside of Downs, a northeast Ohio nonprofit that provides support, education and advocacy for people with Down Syndrome and their families.

Dress Up for Downs also had a 50/50 auction and raffled off illustrations done by Christian Thesken, the proceeds from which also went to the Upside of Downs.

The winner of the 50/50 raffle, which had a $216 pot, donated his winnings to the Upside of Downs as well.

After the show, Lexi Stoicovy, the marketing coordinator and a junior fashion merchandising major, announced a donor had rounded the organization’s $2108 in donations up to $3000.

“I cried,” Stoicovy said. “It is such a show of love and I am so grateful for the kindness that we see here tonight.”

Stoicovy decided to join the club after receiving Petit’s email and has been part of the group since.

Members of Sigma Nu and two special education majors escorted models down the runway as music played and the announcer gave a small amount of information about each model.

Following the show, the designers joined their models on stage where they were then presented with roses from the escorts before being led downstairs to the Rockwell atrium where a red carpet and backdrop had been set up for photos.

During the show, the auditorium in Rockwell Hall was filled almost to capacity with people who had turned up to watch the show.

Sara Lawler, a senior environmental conservation biology student, attended the show for her second time.

“I thought the show was great,” Lawler said. “It was great last year, too. Each year it just keeps getting better, so it’s awesome to see all the progress they’ve made.”

Laurin O’Doherty, a senior biology student, decided to attend the show both to show support for Sarah Petit and to help contribute to the cause.

“It was amazing,” O’Doherty said. “All of the models did a great job and all of the designers did a great job. It was beautiful.”

Petit said the goal of the club is to make age appropriate and better fitting fashion more accessible to people with Down syndrome.

“Fashion is not meant to isolate people,” Petit said.

Ella Abbott is the fashion reporter. Contact her at [email protected].