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Local Students Fight Pancreatic Cancer With Fashion 4 The Cure Fundraiser

Plenty of teenagers have an interest in fashion, but 16-year-old Muttontown resident Becky Broxmeyer has taken her interest in an unusual and welcome direction; together with her friend Sophie Koppelman Fritz, a classmate at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, she has helped organize “Fashion 4 The Cure,” a mother-daughter fashion show and fundraiser with all proceeds going to The Lustgarten Foundation for pancreatic cancer research. The fundraiser, to be held April 6 at Engineers County Country Club on Glenwood Road in Roslyn Harbor, is expected to raise $150,000.

he evening will begin with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by the fashion show at 8 p.m. Long Island-based designer Christina Makowsky will dress the adults; teen clothing has been donated by TopShop. Also included will be a silent auction.

Broxmeyer and Koppelman Fritz had known each other through school previously, but became close friends when they learned of their shared experience with pancreatic cancer; Broxmeyer lost her father to the disease in 2010, while Koppelman Fritz lost her grandmother, whom she affectionately called “Mommom,” in 2008. When the two realized they shared an interest in fashion as well as honoring their loved ones, Fashion 4 The Cure was born.

According to Kerri Kaplan, Lustgarten Foundation executive director, it was the girls who approached her with the idea for the fundraiser; they came into her office on a school holiday to explain the idea, then shouldered much of the organizational responsibility themselves. The two girls made the arrangements for the venue, contacted the designers, obtained the raffle prizes, and did virtually everything that was necessary to prepare for the event. “They asked very little of the foundation,” Kaplan said. “We’ve given them some guidance, but really, they’ve done so much on their own.”

Broxmeyer said that while she is involved with the Friends Academy Community Service club, organizing Fashion 4 The Cure was like nothing she had done before. “Both of us have been interested in fashion for a while, so it was exciting to do something with charity and fashion together,” she said. While it was difficult to approach business owners at first, the girls didn’t have problems securing donations, since most people they approached, said Broxmeyer, were receptive and saw the value of the event.

While they knew from the beginning they wanted to use fashion as the theme, they eventually settled on the idea of a mother-daughter fashion show to get the whole family involved, as opposed to just people their own age, said Broxmeyer.

Kaplan noted that while she has worked with many dedicated volunteers in her time, the commitment of these two young ladies stood out to her. “I’m just incredibly impressed by how much these two 16-year-olds have done,” she said. “They really just embody when people say teenagers should be getting involved in something good, and they’re really just very special girls.”

Unsurprisingly, Broxmeyer says her family is pleased with the work that she has done. “They always knew they wanted to do something in honor of my Dad, or in memory of him…they’re happy that it was me to step up to the plate first,” she said. And, needless to say, both girls’ friends are very excited for the upcoming fashion show.

With an overall survival rate of just 5 percent, pancreatic cancer is a disease with no prevention, no early tests and, unless detected in its early stages, no cure. The Lustgarten Foundation, located in Bethpage, works to advance scientific and clinical research related to the diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of pancreatic cancer. One hundred percent of all donations received by the foundation go directly to pancreatic cancer research. 

On April 3, the Lustgarten Foundation is holding a walk for pancreatic cancer research in Manhattan, with a similar walk planned for Long Island later this year in October. To find out more about upcoming events, or to find out more about pancreatic cancer research and treatment, visit the website at www.Lustgarten.org. To reserve tickets to Fashion 4 The Cure, or to donate, visit the “Get Involved” section of the website, and click on “Featured Community Activities.”