Practice makes pretty

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Ariel White | Staff Writer

In some situations companies will exploit the pink ribbon in order to sell more goods.

People compassionately feel for these women and so people support them the best they can and hope that these consumer proceeds go towards research.

An ABC News report advocates consumers to “think before you pink.”

The bottom line is that some organizations and non-profits are raising money for breast cancer, but they just might be raising profits for associates and companies as well.

Most people can associate with cancer in some way, shape or form. It’s easy to feel a bit skeptical about attending a breast cancer awareness event sponsored by a plastic surgery team.

The Pink Runway is a fashion show, and sure, it’s definitely empowering to be cheered on stage while you walk as not only a reconstruction patient, but also a cancer survivor.

However, it’s easy to question that support when the silent auctions and raffles include Botox, 50 units or two injections and breast implants.

The event was hosted by Subhas Gupta, MD, PhD, and Chairman of Loma Linda University Plastic Surgery Department.

The event took six months to prepare, and over 50 volunteers arrived at 8 a.m. to help set up. The fashion show was held at the Riverside Auditorium and Events Center, from noon to 8 p.m.

Seven hundred tickets were sold for $35 to $45, and all proceeds will go towards breast cancer reconstruction education and research efforts.

“100 percent of profits go back into the Inland Empire community,” Seema Sugandh, co-founder of “The Pink Runway,” said. “We provide care and re-constructive services to under-insured patients. Our  funds are also used to support research into the disparities in breast cancer awareness and educational programs about breast cancer awareness.”

The event was started five years ago when co-founder Sughandh lost her mother due to late detection of breast cancer. “My perfect , heal thy, beautiful, kind, passionate, joyful, generous mother with no family history of cancer was taken from us,” she said.

People were dressed fabulously and of course most were wearing some shade of a supportive pink.

Upon arriving, guests were encouraged to take a pink carpet runway photo.

On a table just out of the cameras view, was a pile of dress-up items you could use in your picture.

There were leis, silly hats, obnoxious sunglasses and props including picture frames. These things could bring confidence and comic relief to those who weren’t feeling so photogenic.

Photographer, Kim Jarvis with La Ti Da’s studio, felt this part of the event was important. “A lot of patients can take pictures with their doctors who’ve helped them through their treatment,” she said.

The studio provided guests with a free 4”x6” Pink Runway memento photo. Outside on the beautiful patio guests received a small pink handbag provided by the Loma  Linda University Plastic Surgery Department.

Inside was a fan, chap stick, nail file, pack of pink ribbon tissues and a thick book on breast cancer and re-constructive options.

The raffles were emphasized as a big part of the party, and were donated by various companies. There were over 30 baskets, some filled with fragrances and spa gear and others included a yoga mat and gift certificates.

The largest prize was from our local Muffin Top Bakery. This enormous basket was stuffed with bread and pastries and if frozen, could’ve fed a student for weeks.

The grand prize raffle was a hot-air balloon ride. If you attended ea ch informative seminar you would be eligible to win that trip.

The first lecture session was called “Ask the Experts” and was hosted by Dr. Gupta. Twenty people sat together in the auditorium and were able to ask four specialists questions regarding plastic surgery.

“My wife, Beth had a double mastectomy and (Dr. Cody) did the procedure that made her feel beautiful again,” said Richard Lango.

“This is a nice tribute to our patients and the journey that they’ve traveled. It’s a time to celebrate our patients and motivate others to explore other options,” said, Dr. Cody. The second lecture was called “Your Time to Shine,” also given by Dr. Gupta, and talked about the aging of the face.

Gupta explained the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that affect our aging body, and talked about Botox, diet and sunlight exposure.

The Yoga Room of Redlands offered a discussion on the endless benefits of yoga and relaxation.

For the meditation part of the session, 70 people sat in a dim lit room and listened to Daniel’s calming voice.

Guests focused on gratitude and compassion and loving their enemies- then they sat for a while and focused on nothing.

When Bravo TV’s show “Newlyweds” couple Tina Sugandh and Tarz Ludwigsen, arrived people quickly swarmed them to get a picture.

Tina’s brother-in-law is Dr. Gupta, and she’s been active in spreading the word for this event.  “I’m excited and inspired by the ladies on the runway,” said Tina. “They put me at ease and show me that there’s life after cancer” She was dressed in a purple runway quality dress and was wearing pink jewel-encrusted stilettos.

Those shoes were being  auctioned to the highest bidder and she advertised them extensively throughout the event. These pink ribbon stilettos are available Online for $190 on, and $15 will go towards breast cancer research.

“Breast cancer is devastating and breast reconstructions  bring them full circle to being whole again,” medical assistant Cheryl Luci said. “We want to fully support our patients and encourage them to be models.”

“I had breast cancer and I want to be supportive and bring awareness, not many people know about the option for reconstruction,” said Judy Rosaasen, who was feeling nervous about her second year attending the event.

This Harriete Parker’s fifth year being a model for the pink runway and her 25th year cancer free.

“I believe any time something devastating happens to you, you need to have support,” said Parker. “Loma Linda offers a unique  connection with their patients. They are available to you, they respond to every call, and that’s why I am still here.”

Heather Froglear of K-Frog Radio was referred to as the chosen MC or “Master of Ceremonies” for the event. Her adopted daughter went
through major open heart surgery at 14 days old at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.

“I vowed at that moment, six years ago that I would do whatever I could to give back to the hospital that saved my daughter’s life,” she said. “We are strong supporters of anything Loma Linda does.”

“My family has been impacted by breast cancer,” said Mayor Rusty Bailey. “My mother-in-law had a double mastectomy, my sister had a
double mastectomy.”

“This opportunity offers awareness and screening information to a population that is both underserved and at risk,” said Dr. Gupta.

“Twenty percent of our clinical practice is based on uninsured or under-insured patients. If any of you are wondering if you are truly making a difference by being here tonight, in 2013 for the 13th straight year there will be a further decrease in the death rate from breast cancer.”

“The national average in developing breast cancer is one in eight women, but there’s only one in 10 in Riverside County, so congratulations
again to the work that we’re doing,” said Mayor Rusty Bailey. “We pride ourselves on being a city focused on arts and innovation and I would call that pretty innovative.”

According to Mayor Bailey, Riverside was one of the first 10 cities in 1985 to celebrate breast cancer awareness.

The overall ambiance of the event was relaxed and soothing. The chairs and tables were draped with white cloth and tied with a classy band of pink or purple ribbon and there were delicate bouquets of flowers on most tables.

The lighting had a violet hue and was easy on the eyes. The food was delicious and full of cancer fighting ingredients guests enjoyed
butter lettuce tacos filled with lentils, walnuts, and the cancer fighting antioxidant, pomegranate. There was a tamari-ginger kale salad and turkey rubbed with Kona coffee.

It seemed as though everyone was drinking wine, but it turned out to be a deep red Jamaican hibiscus limeade.

The Fashion show was definitely inspiring and the 15 models walked confidently in beautiful fall clothing.

The styles on the runway were all provided by Macy’s and the makeup and hair was done by Marinello’s School of Beauty. All models are Inland Empire breast cancer survivors and reconstruction patients of Loma Linda University’s plastic surgery department.

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