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Fashionable fundraising planned in Windham

WINDHAM - Teachers, community members, students and survivors will strut on the catwalk next month during a fundraising fashion show to benefit breast cancer research, treatment and prevention.

Hosted by Windham High School's Smiles Community Service Club, the May 4 event will feature fashions from area vendors as well as some original creations, said teacher Matt Bryant, the club's co-adviser.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Avon Breast Cancer Foundation through Team BellaDonna, a group of local women participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Boston May 18 and 19.

"This fashion show is so much more meaningful than a typical school event," Bryant said. "With each step we take on the runway, we honor all those who fought the battle against breast cancer."

Models in the show include staff members and Windham High School students, as well as seven local breast cancer survivors.

"This way, the audience can see just what survival looks like," Bryant said.

The event, which will also feature raffles of items donated by area businesses, has grown in popularity over the years, according to Windham resident Donna Bramante InDelicato, team captain for Team BellaDonna.

"I'm very proud of its evolution and growth since I conceived it four years ago," InDelicato said, noting that these days the event is almost entirely directed by local high school students.

"The fashion show accomplished many things and is far greater than the sum of its meaningful elements," she added. "It has become firmly rooted as a Windham High School tradition and part of the greater community's unique philanthropic culture and pride."

Weaving generations together, the students work closely with team members, local business officials, friends and the high school community, which Bramante said offers ample life lessons for the teens while empowering them to take action against breast cancer.

High school jazz musicians provide the show's lively music, while the staff at Windham's Artistic Creations Salon provides hair and makeup services for the show's models.

InDelicato, a breast cancer survivor, formed Team BellaDonna about 10 years ago, and over the years more than 40 participants have joined her in the springtime Boston walk.

To date, the team has raised nearly $350,000 for breast cancer research and has consistently been ranked among the top Boston teams.

A dozen team members will walk in this year's event, including InDelicato's son, Vallen, a student at Windham High School.

Vallen's classmates Liz Collacchio and Bernadette Connors, who are the fashion show's event managers, will also participate in the walk, as will science teacher Joe Mancinelli and student Julie Peterson.

InDelicato's daughter Victoria, a fifth-grader, will model in the fashion show and is part of the walk's Youth Crew. The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Boston takes participants on a 40-mile stroll of the city. Each walker raises a minimum of $1,800 for the cause.

Donations to support the local team can be made online at www.avonwalk.org or on the team's website, www.teambelladonna.weebly.com.

The fourth annual Styles and Smiles Breast Cancer Fashion Show will take place Saturday, May 4, at 6:30 p.m. in the Windham High School auditorium. Tickets will be sold at the door for a donation of $10 per person, or two tickets for $15. All event proceeds will go directly to the Avon Breast Cancer Foundation.

aguilmet@newstote.com



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