by Mellissa Thomas
Unity in Uniform, Inc.’s 4th Alarm Fashion Show rocked the Wyndham Orlando Resort on International Drive from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. on October 19, 2013 to raise funds for breast cancer awareness and student scholarships for medical and emergency services training. Firefighters, nurses, doctors, EMTs, military veterans, and police officers enlivened the runway for a glorious night of fashion fun.
Saxophonist David “Dayve” Stewart soothed the extinguished guests during the VIP pre-show, setting the mood for the main event. National radio personality and social activist Michael Baisden appeared and did a brief interview with UIU’s Executive Director Hezedean Smith.
Outside the rooms models, vendors, and UIU members mingled and took pictures on UIU’s pink carpet. Jammins Radio Network personality Marsha Dawn-Hall (known on the radio as Marsha D.) conducted pink carpet interviews for UIU, and even pulled me there for a brief interview about Downtown Orlando Fashion Week. Jammins Radio Network’s DJ Phayz, a UIU member, worked the tunes for the fashion show.
The night’s vendors included Prudential, Polished Boutique and Salon, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central Florida, Mary Kay Consultant Deanna Roberts, Central Florida Google affiliate Snap & Play (who recorded and photographed the show), Caribbean American Passport News Magazine, and jeweler Ana Pena, who furnished some of the models’ accessories.
Here’s how the show went down, segment by segment.
Once Orlando Fire Chaplain Lonnie Crawford did the Invocation, Star 94.5 FM’s JoJo Oneal and comedian Tight Mike introduced themselves, generating laughs from the moment they stepped on the stage. Tight Mike feigned feeling sick (read: mock heart attack), which cued the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” Orlando Fire Engineer Emmanuel Washington burst forth wearing an all red business suit, barking instructions on how to properly resuscitate someone as UIU firemen and EMTs emerged on the stage with CPR dummies to demonstrate. It was on from there.
JoJo and Tight Mike read off the first door prizes, then introduced Michael Baisden. He briefly spoke to the audience of his two-year youth mentoring crusade in Orlando and endorsed Unity in Uniform’s work in the Central Florida community. “We don’t have enough black men mentoring our young black boys,” he said. “I mean, thank you, white people. We’re grateful for what you’ve done, and I’m thankful that women have stepped up to the plate, but we need more black men to mentor [these kids].” He’ll be mentoring youth from Evans High School each Tuesday.
Baisden briefly discussed his twenty-year journey as an author and mentioned that two of his books are being adapted into films, including his 1999 release “Maintenance Man.”
Dillard’s at Florida Mall furnished dashing men’s and women’s business casual outfits for the models. Charlie Wilson’s “There Goes My Baby” played while they performed a courting skit: Firefighter Pierre Nixon portrayed Charlie Wilson in the song, who sings of encountering a beautiful woman while shopping. Men and women graced the runway as Nixon and his female counterpart performed their skit.
The night’s summer showcase lit the audience up. UIU models bore muscles, curves, and skin galore in sexy swimsuits and summer getups provided by Polished Boutique and Salon, Wild Side Clothing, Dillard’s at Florida Mall, and Divinely Adorned.
Life Worth Living Pharmacy has consistently backed UIU’s fashion shows since its inaugural year. UIU Executive Director Hezedean Smith and Associate Director Stacey Brown presented the LWLP team with an appreciation plaque and thanked them for their continued support.
After a fifteen-minute intermission, Mr. Smith spoke briefly about UIU and played the company’s overview video to give the audience an idea of what the organization is about.
JoJo and Tight Mike raffled off a genuine mink shrug, a two-day stay at the Downtown Marriott, a Yankee Candle aromatherapy kit, and a flat screen TV.
During the show, the City of Orlando presented UIU a $9,000 grant check to launch its Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) program this year, which enrolled roughly fifteen Central Florida high school seniors to receive emergency and medical training.
Suit City of Orlando and All Tied Up provided stunning three-piece suits for the men, who performed a silent skit with the ladies. Each women emerged wearing Divinely Adorned’s formal wear and flirted with some of the men, dismissed some others, and strutted back to the top of the runway arm in arm with the man they finally chose.
The show gave breast cancer survivors the full glamour treatment as always: lights, cameras, and catwalk. Stephanie, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central Florida’s Volunteer Director for the 4th Alarm Fashion Show, and UIU Executive Secretary Jennifer Klinger presented the ladies, gifting them with bouquets and swag bags. UIU men escorted the women down the runway.
The models showed their true colors during this segment by modeling in their work uniforms, provided by Municipal Clothing. The one exception was the nurses, who sported fantasy-inspiring skimpy white-and-red nurse coats with red shoes.
All the models returned and sat along the edges of the stage. Smith and Brown returned and made their final acknowledgements for all the sponsors, vendors, designers, and behind the scenes crew.
After the show, people flooded the outside hall to take more pink carpet photos and mingle some more, and UIU’s 2011 Lieutenant Timothy Jackson Scholarship winner B.J. Jackson worked the turntables during the after party.
If you’ve loved these Unity in Uniform, Inc. features and you’re ready to lend a helping hand to Central Florida youth, get involved at www.unityinuniform.org.
All photos taken by Mellissa Thomas.
About the Author:
Downtown Orlando Fashion Week Chief Editor Mellissa Thomas is a Jamaica-born writer. She’s a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with Entertainment Business Masters and Film Bachelors degrees from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.
She’s currently available for hire, writing content for websites, blogs, and marketing material. She also writes poetry, screenplays, and ghostwrites books.
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