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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Zareinu students the stars of annual fashion show

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Zareinu student Rachel Benlolo walks the runway with her former teacher, Nadine Joffe. [George Pimentel Photography]

TORONTO — The power of fashion can indeed transform us – it can give us the confidence to keep on going, said Canadian fashion icon, Jeanne Beker welcoming some 650 guests to the 10th annual Zareinu fashion show.

The Nov. 12 event, hosted by Beker at Bellvue Manor in Vaughan, Ont., raised close to $300,000 in support of the Zareinu Educational Centre, a treatment centre that delivers programs for children with special needs, including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder and other neurological and developmental impairments.

 The highlight of the night came when the children from Zareinu and students from across the GTA walked hand-in-hand together down the runway. The kids were dressed in Original and Freeman Formalwear.

Zareinu student Rachel Benlolo made her way down the catwalk beaming with delight.  “For a kid that we thought would never walk, this is huge and I owe it all to Zareinu,” Rachel’s mother, Marlene Kenley told The CJN.

“Imagine if you had a child that does not speak and has a feeding tube. Imagine dropping off your child at school and not knowing how they were cared for because your child can’t tell you how their day went. For me to drop off my daughter, who is the centre of my universe, at Zareinu, and know not only is she learning, not only is she being taken care of, but to know the therapists are aware of every twitch that Rachel makes and every facial expression, that if they think she is off even a little bit, they call me right away.  That’s massive for me.”

Zareinu president and chair Danny Gordon paid tribute to the evening co-chairs: “Three people spearheaded the fashion show since its inception 10 years ago: Renee Rosenzweig, Stacy Markin and Esti Cohen. Together they have helped raise over $3 million cumulatively over the last 10 years. 

“What began as a moderate yet momentous event has become one of our community’s monumental evenings of the year. These funds have directly contributed to a number of programs including state of the art equipment, interventions and physical therapies. The success is due to the efforts of these fashion co-chairs.  We are fortunate to have them on our team.”

Guests schmoozed and talked fashion at the cocktail reception as they observed a spectacular fashion installation from Cat’s Meow Vintage Couture, sampled gourmet food, sipped some bubbly and participated in a raffle and auction.

Professional models from high-end Canadian retailer Andrews, as well as the international luxury designer label Versace took to the runway to showcase their collections. New this year was a menswear collection by Versace and Dirk Bikkembergs. The Shoe Company provided the evening footwear, and models wore beautiful accessories by Fiori.

Dr. Golda Milo-Manson, Zareinu board member and vice-president of Medicine & Academic Affairs at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, addressed the crowd. “He or she can’t do something is never something you will hear at Zareinu. Rather, it’s, ‘What can we do to make this happen?’ The integrated education and therapy programs at Zareinu are unique and very special. It’s a place for goals, dreams and endless possibilities that come to life with the help of donors, the community and the people here tonight.”

Visit www.zareinu.org.

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