Forty-seven breast cancer survivors, including 41 from Maine, modeled in New England Breast Cancer Alliance’s second annual Runway for Hope at Holiday Inn by the Bay on April 20.

“Being part of this with all these survivors is super empowering,” said Robyn Jackson, who strode down the runway in firefighter gear, wearing a helmet signed by every survivor in the show. “When I think of firefighters, I think of bravery and courage.”

The survivors, from their 20s to their 60s, brought swagger to anthems like “Fight Song” and “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.” With a Fire & Ice theme, they showcased their creativity, personality and resilience with looks inspired by everything from ice warriors and Mrs. Claus (with a turkey and two large chestnuts tucked in her bodice) to fireworks and a rising phoenix. All this was supported by a “glam squad” of dozens of hair and makeup artists and seamstresses.

Everything about this second Runway for Hope was bigger than last year’s, which was already a resounding success both in terms of fundraising for breast cancer research and empowering survivors. The 2024 show had more models, more guests, more corporate sponsors and auction items and more than twice as much money raised. The 4½-hour event concluded with an announcement that $61,000 had been raised.

“A number of women I got to know in this community are no longer here,” said board president Marisa Dolan Paraschak of Naples. “That’s the main reason I wanted to start the New England Breast Cancer Alliance and Runway for Hope. I believe that with research, more people will survive this disease and get a shot at their dreams.”

Each model fundraised, but none more so than Margaret Morrill Paisley of Portland, who brought in $4,300. She lost her mother to breast cancer in 1970 and carries the BRCA2 gene, often referred to as the “breast cancer gene.”

“I’m grateful for all the research the New England Breast Cancer Alliance has made available,” Paisley said. “That research helped me to make an informed decision and, in 2012, I took the BRCA2 gene out of my life. I had a double mastectomy and a complete hysterectomy, and all my siblings tested negative for the BRCA2 gene.”

Runway for Hope will return to Holiday Inn by the Bay on April 26, 2025.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at amyparadysz@gmail.com.


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