“Our Heroes,” the annual Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation survivor fashion show, is Saturday, May 12 at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston. Doors open at 6 p.m. with a unique “vendor marketplace,” including event sponsor Alex and Ani. The show begins at 7.
This year marks the fifth show to celebrate the unique spirit and beauty of breast cancer survivors, 15 of whom will take to the runway as the show’s models. Their hero escorts—loved ones, doctors, military personnel and emergency response professionals—and audience members will be treated to fashions provided by Botticelli of North Providence, Sonya’s of Cranston and Off Broadway Shoes of Warwick.
“Breast cancer does not discriminate,” said one of the event’s organizers, breast cancer survivor Carol Ann Donnelly. “That’s the theme of this year’s show. Breast cancer doesn’t care about race, gender, height, weight or age.”
Cancer is something Alice Bastien of Lincoln is all too familiar with. The disease has recently affected three of her six children in very short succession. Of the 20 models appearing in the “Our Heroes” event, 15 are breast cancer survivors and five are mothers of survivors, who are being honored in a respectful nod to Mother’s Day, which takes place the following day.
At 81 years of age, Bastien, who faces health challenges of her own, might be the most delighted to be appearing.
“I’m certainly the oldest,” Bastien said with a laugh. “It’s a real honor and I sure am ready for my runway debut.”
Bastien’s tough times include two daughters and one son who have faced cancer in the last four years alone. Alice Bastien first met Maria Gemma four years ago when Bastien’s daughter Donna was diagnosed with two separate stage IV cancers, breast and lung. With the accompanying surgeries and treatments, Donna’s sickness was hard enough for the Bastien family to deal with.
“We thought that the Bastien family had really cleared a hurdle,” said Gemma, the foundation's executive director.
But since Donna’s initial 2008 diagnosis, Alice’s daughter Lori was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and her son Richard was diagnosed this year with prostate cancer.
“Alice deserves a night of celebration,” said Gemma. “This is long overdue.”
Individual tickets cost $42 each. A table for 10 people can be reserved for $400 and corporate sponsorship packages begin at $500. To purchase tickets, or to become a vendor or sponsor, call 401-861-HOPE (4376). Proceeds benefit the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.