Posted by: sonewjersey | August 30, 2012

My Fashion Show Experience

by Sara Teator, guest blogger

I distinctly remember my first American Girl doll. She had brown hair and brown eyes that resembled mine, and I would tenderly dress her in outfits, caring for her as if she were my younger sister. I received my doll as a birthday gift when I was in the second grade, almost ten years ago; after that, my only thoughts were of the American Girls.

Soon after I received my first doll, I began reading the books about the historical American Girls. I learned about the Revolutionary War through the stories of Felicity; I experienced life on the frontier with Kirsten; and I saw the effects of the Great Depression firsthand in Kit’s stories.

They took me through time and initiated my desire to change the world. At the same time, a classmate of mine told me that she had attended the American Girl Fashion Show. Immediately I wanted to attend a show myself. However, my aunt – who volunteered at the shows for many years – surprised me when she said that she would have me model in the next show. I was elated to actually have the chance to mimic my favorite characters.

When I signed up to model at the fashion show, I had never heard of Special Olympics. Perhaps the even greater gift than modeling in the show was learning about this amazing organization. I learned of the athletes’ stories and their determination to overcome any obstacles thrown their way.

Even at a young age, I was inspired by their courage to always pursue my aspirations despite naysayers. The athletes touched my heart in a personal way – I have another aunt with cerebral palsy and a brother with special needs. To see firsthand that people who have either physical or mental difficulties could lead productive lives gave me an immense amount of hope for my family, for myself, and for anyone else who struggled.

While I happily modeled onstage, I was aware that I was helping a greater cause; the money raised by the American Girl Fashion Show would give people the opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

Fast forward to 2012: I have volunteered as part of the American Girl Fashion Show in each year since my first time modeling, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. A few years ago, I officially became part of the Junior Committee, which consists of older girls who have more responsibilities to make the shows run smoothly. Our jobs are hectic at times, but the stress is well worth seeing the joy of the young models and girls in the audience.

I know that these girls will learn, just as I learned, that Special Olympics and the fashion show are both golden opportunities for athletes, and for the girls to learn about themselves. The young girls who play dual roles as athletes in Special Olympics and models in the fashion show have taught me balance, responsibility, courage, and above all, acceptance.

Volunteering has enabled me to develop into the hopeful teenager who will always strive to follow her goals, and help others achieve theirs. It all began when I was a young girl gazing at my first American Girl doll, but it has led me down a road that I will continue to follow in the future.

Reservations for the American Girl Fashion show open Monday, September 3. The show is being held on Sunday, October 21 at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, NJ. To make a reservation, please CLICK HERE.

 

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