Goal to raise acceptance of special needs and support new social center
Fantastic Friends of WNY held its third annual “Fantastic Friends Rock the Runway” fashion show at Forbes Theater inside Aloft Buffalo/500 Pearl in Downtown Buffalo on Friday. Members of Western New York’s special needs community captivated the audience by proudly taking the stage, dancing and waving.
After not being able to hold an event in 2020, organizers said this fashion show had extra special meaning for participants. The goal of the interactive show is to educate the community and increase acceptance of individuals with special needs while raising needed funds for an area nonprofit.
A press release noted, “The evening provides an inspiring demonstration of special needs individual’s ‘abilities’ as they model fashions alongside their ‘buddies,’ including members of the Cheektowaga Police Department. This event is made possible with the generous partnership of area sponsors, donors, selfless volunteers, parents and amazing community supporters. It included a live and silent auction.”
Fantastic Friends of WNY Director Debbie Cordone said, “Our two annual fashion shows were a huge success, then we were unable to host the event in 2020, which was extremely disappointing for our kids. We were thrilled to bring back the fashion show for 2021 and we thank the community for their support.”
In recent years, Fantastic Friends has increased programming and expanded its special needs center located on French Road in Cheektowaga. Cordone has worked throughout the pandemic to find unique ways to provide services to those in need.
Fantastic Friends of WNY is an all-volunteer organization for special needs individuals of all ages whose mission statement is to provide a safe, comfortable environment for individuals with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities of all ages. “A place of acceptance and understanding without judgement,” is how Cordone describes it.
Elizabeth Carey served as emcee of the “Fantastic Friends Rock the Runway” fashion show, and several elected officials and dignitaries were on hand to show their support as well.