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Hip Hop and March of Dimes marry for one special night

  • Written by Shirley Jackson

The Southern Entertainment Awards Charity “RIP The Runway” Fashion Show held recently at the Cook Convention Center used fashionable styles, music and messages to connect its audience to its cause.
The Southern Entertainment Awards (SEA) Charity “RIP The Runway” Fashion Show held recently at the Cook Convention Center used fashionable styles, music and messages to connect its audience to its cause.

This fashion moment was courtesy of Work of Arts Models. (Photos by Shirley Jackson)

Valencia Morman-Nelson of the March of Dimes was on the receiving end of the benefit fashion show.

“The partnership between the March of Dimes, ‘City Beats’ and Work of Arts Models came about when the promoter, Reginald Dyer, saw our material at another fashion show,” said Valencia Morman-Nelson, state director of program services for the March of Dimes.

“He was moved by it, we talked and he wanted to know how he could help to make March of Dimes a charity of choice. The conversation blossomed into one of the best partnerships – to ‘Rip the Runway,’ where ($400 in) ticket sales to the fashion show sold from our office (March of Dimes) directly benefited the project NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) (Family Support Program,”

“City Beats (the Memphis Hip Hop TV Show)” and Work Of Art Models hosted the (March 5) March of Dimes fundraiser, which offered fashion, entertainment, music as well as a showcase for the critical services offered by March of Dimes.

“The purpose of the benefit is to enhance awareness of pre-term births and our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Family Support Program that is housed in the Regional Medical Center,” said Morman-Nelson.

“This year we partnered with the March of Dimes to bring awareness and touch the urban community to let them know of the services they provide,” Dyer said.

“We thought it was a win-win situation. In conjunction with the ‘Rip the Runway’ Charity Fashion Show, we provided an opportunity for up-and-coming local artists to participate as entertainment for the show. With communications through “Facebook” and the ‘City Beats TV Show’, there were over 40 artists to audition.”

The crowd of approximately 350 people was wowed by eight local artists, who performed as the models strolled the runway. Rapper Kayden Bowie, 7, of Macon Road Baptist School, received a standing ovation as he performed, and child models took over the runway wearing brightly colored attire. Kevin Bowie, 2010 Southern Entertainment Award recipient who performs with the group 3MK, is Kayden’s father.

“Rapping is a great hobby for Kayland and he wanted to be a part of this fundraiser that’s benefiting the March of Dimes,” said Kevin Bowie.

During the event, the crowd watched a video presentation of the services the March of Dimes provides in the Memphis community.

“After the show, people approached me to say they did not know what we did. Some even went into their pockets to give us monetary donations to help support the NICU Family Support Program,” Morman-Nelson said.

“We have had discussions about partnering on an annual basis. I think it was well worth the time and investment of the awareness piece because these are the families we really want to get to, to educate about pre-term births and how to prevent the occurrences. There is a high rate of pre-term births in the African-American communities, particularly in Memphis. This would be a perfect venue to marry Hip Hop, the urban community and the March of Dimes.”

In 2010, the NICU Family Support Program helped 1700 families in the Memphis Community.

“We were very pleased with the numbers and didn’t realize the extent of the work itself,” said Morman-Nelson.

“We have a part-time March of Dimes specialist who works at the Regional Medical Center providing informational and comfort support to families who have babies that have been admitted to the ICU. We are the only NICU Family Support Program in Tennessee led by the March of Dimes.”

(To sign up for the March of Dimes Walk on April 30 at Shelby Farms, go to www.marchforbabies.org.)

For volunteer information contact Valencia or Karen at 901-590-1722.

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