The Clewiston News

2016 WISH Fashion Show biggest event yet; Fundraising program for hospital brings community together for worthy cause

This year’s WISH Fashion Show was a huge success, according to organizers, with the event netting what may be the largest amount yet in the show’s four-year history.

ccording to Cindy Carroll, president of the organization that organizes the show, more than $120,000 has been raised off of only four fashion show events, an impressive number that has helped the hospital renovate rooms, purchase new equipment, and other items that were needed at Clewiston’s only hospital.

As audience members hoped to win from a number of designer purses and other prizes, volunteer models from throughout the community stepped onto the stage for their moment to shine and put their best foot forward to help the event become a success.

The WISH Fashion Show started in 2012 as a fundraising effort for Hendry Regional Medical Center, with Cindy Carroll, the wife of physician and local Doctor Leonard Carroll. From the beginning, the group of tireless volunteers looked for one big fundraising event that would involve the entire community in supporting HRMC, and the volunteers believe they have hit upon a winning recipe.

WISH stands for Women Involved in Supporting the Hospital and each year the group gains more members willing to do their part in helping their local hospital.

Mrs. Carroll explains the mission:
“Maybe it’s because I’m a doctor’s wife, but I know the value of having a hospital nearby,” Mrs. Carroll said. “And I know it not only by him being a doctor and a surgeon, but by him having been a patient, as well.”

According to her, work on each fashion show begins almost immediately after the previous event, with the majority of the actual work happening in January for the annual event. The organization counts on the work of many people, including the tireless work of Brenda Lopez, Traci Owens and Julie Collins, to mention but a few.

Other community supporters help round out the effort.

So far, few people have turned down the opportunity to get up on stage and model clothing for the program. This year, even Clewiston City Manager Al Perry got in on the action, strutting male fashion for the adoring crowd.

Even Dr. Carroll has had to model at the behest of his wife.

“People like seeing people they know as models,” said Mrs. Carroll.

Each year the event grows, and each year coordinators seek ways to improve the experience. Local businesses support the effort by making dresses and other fashionable items available for use at the show, and some businesses have continued helping each year, including Dillard’s, from the Mall at Wellington Green, and Roland Martin’s Marina Boutique. This year other businesses pitched in and made clothing available for the show, including Joey’s Girls in LaBelle and the Pink Pineapple in Ft. Myers.

Kristine Petersen’s Criminal Justice volunteers were also on hand to direct and serve those in the audience, and could be seen handling food and seating with professionalism and respect.

One of the most important goals the organizers hope to achieve is to involve as many people in supporting the hospital as possible, and everything from the ticket prices to the raffle drawings is aimed at making this possible. Models run the full gamut of residents, with all ages, genders, and ethnicities represented each year.

“We are just extremely proud of how this event has been received in the community and of what we have been able to give back to our community by way of giving to the hospital that serves us,” said Mrs. Carroll.

WISH would like to thank a few important sponsors who helped make this year’s event a success: Bobby Mitchell, owner of Brenda’s, as well as Sugarland Liquors, provided liquor served at the event, while Southern Gardens provided oranges.