COLUMBIA — Days before the second annual Model Citizen Fashion Show, the $100,000 fundraising goal for the event has already been met for MU’s Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
The show, scheduled for Saturday at the Holiday Inn Select Executive Center and hosted by Jann Carl of Entertainment Tonight and Megan Murphy of KOMU-TV, will help benefit research and training for children with neurological disorders related to autism. Designs from students at MU and Stephens College will be featured in the show along with designs from boutiques and other stores from the area. Kellie Ann Christie, developmental Officer for the Thompson Center, said 10 people have already pledged at the “couture” level, meaning they’ve given $5,000 to the center. This, along with other donations, pushes funds raised for the event past $100,000.
“We’re thrilled to have the outpouring of support from our community,” Christie said. “It means a tremendous amount to the families and children that we serve at the Thompson Center.”
Autism is a neurological disorder that can affect the development of children and affect behavior, learning and interaction with others. The disorder affects one in 50 children nationally and is more common than HIV, diabetes and pediatric cancer combined, according to national statistics.
Last year, more than 700 community members and students attended the show, and Christie expects even more for this year.
A highlight of the fashion show for her is having Carl, along with Murphy, as a mistress of ceremonies for the event, Christie said. Carl, a Missouri School of Journalism alumna, has a son with epilepsy.
Janet Farmer, co-director of the Thompson Center, is also excited about seeing Carl, who she said is a very talented emcee.
The Thompson Center, located at 300 Portland St., provides clinical services for children with autism, including consultation, diagnostic evaluations and other health-related services.
Money raised from last year’s fashion show went toward behavioral treatment. The money raised this year will be used in a similar manner and might also contribute toward the expansion of the center, which continues to grow, Farmer said.
The Thompson Center moved to its current location in 2006 and added a new section of about 10 offices in the last two months.
The center provides resources for those children to help expand their social confidence and improve interaction with others. “Kids with autism sometimes need additional support because they have behaviors that can get in the way of learning,” Farmer said.
Christie said all are encouraged to come out as a way to learn more about autism. Even if you aren’t affected, she said, you know someone who is — a family member, a neighbor or a friend.