DANSVILLE — For three years, local hair stylists have come together to raise awareness for kidney disease in the Catwalk for Kidneys event.
The Third Annual Catwalk for Kidneys was held in The Double Tree Hotel in Rochester on April 14 with Dansville Special Event Stylists, Stephanie Conroy (Blessed Assurance), Patty Forrester (Patty’s), Jaimi Bratcher (Premier Salon), and Madison Jacobs (Boces).
It all started a few years ago when Conroy’s best childhood friend, Julia Yaw, 31, needed a kidney transplant. It was a woman from church named Olivia Morgande who gave Yaw one of her kidneys and saved the young mother of four's life.
Conroy said there were over 60 models from all over New York State at this event. Some were from Syracuse, Albany, Wayland, Dansville, and Rochester.
“It was such a rewarding day to be a part of,” she said. “We had over 60 models, and about 250 people showed up to support us. My kids and Julia’s kids are best friends, and they did the catwalk this year. My daughter Lauren did the opening walk when we started three years ago, and was glad to do it again this year. My son Jonah fell asleep before the walk, so I carried him on the walk with me. The stylists who helped me this year are all my friends, and we had so much fun doing this together.”
Conroy had a page explaining why all her children were doing the catwalk with year.
Jonah is two and the youngest of the Conroy kids, Lauren is five and has walked for the opening show of the catwalk. She is very excited to walk again. Noah is seven, and he loves anything to do with helping people.
Yaw is the North East Kidney regional director and this event goes to honor her strength in her story. It brings awareness to the hurdles faced with kidney disease. Yaw had open heart surgery when she was only 28. She had to have a kidney transplant and a pancreas transplant as well all before the age of 31.
“It is a huge deal to donate life to someone in need,” Conroy said. “Whether you are an organ donor or donate blood it all goes to a good cause.”
“Julia did the catwalk the first year only four weeks out of surgery,” Conroy continued. “She will be there this year too Julia approached me about being the hair stylist for the event. She knew I would try to make it bigger and better. I love being part of this event. I want to see it grow and thrive.”
This year’s event had a Jazz band, huge turnout, donors, transplant recipients, and a message of hope for anyone who is battling a kidney disease.
“I think more people need to be aware of what it means to be an organ donor,” Conroy said. “It is so important that so many people benefit others by becoming an organ donor. It only takes one check mark at the DMV and you can save so many lives. My whole family has become an organ donor, because of this awareness. Julie’s story has changed my life.”