Fashion Show raises money for autistic children and their families

Sunday, March 9, 2008 | 6:24 p.m. CDT; updated 12:45 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008
The Model Citizen Fashion Show, which benefited the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, raised more than $100,000, organizers said. The event was emceed by Jann Carl of "Entertainment Tonight" and KOMU-TV news anchor Megan Murphy. It featured fashion by designers from MU and Stephens College.

COLUMBIA — Backstage at the Model Citizen Fashion Show on Saturday night, colorful clothes lined the racks and boxes of shoes lay about the floor as more than 60 models dashed in and out of changing areas. In the bathroom, girls clustered around the large mirror with curling irons and hair spray in hand, preparing themselves for their walk down the runway.

The show, which benefited the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, featured pieces from 17 designers and Missouri clothing stores and included pieces designed by students from Stephens College and MU.

Jann Carl of “Entertainment Tonight” and KOMU-TV news anchor Megan Murphy emceed the event, which is in its second year. It raised more than $100,000, organizers said.

Saturday’s event was the culmination of months of planning by all those involved in the show, including staff members at the Thompson Center.

Jeannetta Hartley, a Stephens College alumna who modeled in the show for the first time, was struck by the elegance and excitement at the event.

“The setup is really pretty and elegant,” she said after finishing a practice on the runway before the event.

Audience members cheered and clapped for the models as they walked down the runway, but they were especially entranced with the children, who modeled at the end of the show. One child was so impressed with the favor he received during his walk down the runway that he turned and walked back down the runway for a second time, flashing open his jacket for the audience.

Before the show’s finale, William Thompson, who established the Thompson Center with his wife, Nancy, presented a video of autistic children and their families. Thompson said he hopes the center will someday be the leader in the U.S. for the research and care of autistic children.

The Thompson Center, established in 2005, provides clinical services to patients, researches autism and neurodevelopmental disorders, conducts training sessions and provides support resources for families of children with autism.

Christy Sontag, a model in the show, said afterward that she was nervous before going onstage, but was glad she did the show because it was for a good cause.

“It was so fun. I smiled the whole time,” Sontag said.

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