What started out as a small fashion show luncheon in the Westlake community five years ago has blossomed into a popular day-long annual Austin event that helps young adults learn to expect respect in dating relationships.
In 2008, Julie Stephenson pulled together the first Day to Shine fashion show and luncheon for about 100 parents and young adults. Stephenson had spent time chairing the Eanes school district’s School Safety and Health Advisory Council, and she had seen a lot of information underscoring the lasting effects of abusive relationships in early dating. She knew that programs like Choose Respect could help develop better relationship skills as early as middle school.
“One in five teens is in an abusive dating relationship in which they experience controlling behavior and emotional, sexual and physical abuse,” she said. “I wanted to develop an event that would support the programs and organizations that work to stop dating abuse and violence and help educate parents and teens about healthy relationships and staying safe.”
Stephenson also wanted to incorporate local high school and college students as models in the fashion show and prove that young women can wear great clothes that are age appropriate and bolster self-esteem.
With a little fashion savvy from consultants Sue Webber and Sandi Peerman and clothes from Dillard’s and Men’s Wearhouse, a Day to Shine took off. By the third year, the event had added an evening dinner and silent auction to the agenda. During the first five years, the organization raised $150,000 for the National Dating Abuse Helpline, part of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This year, Stephenson is hoping to net $90,000 to give to the dating abuse prevention program at Austin’s SafePlace.
“The Expect Respect program at SafePlace is outstanding and is nationally recognized for its work in dating abuse prevention,” Stephenson said. “We are fortunate to have Expect Respect and its caliber of counselors and staff as part of the Central Texas support [system] for our young people.”
A Day to Shine will be held April 13 at the Austin Hilton Downtown, with the afternoon fashion show and desert at 2 p.m. and the evening fashion show and dinner at 6:30 p.m. The Hilton is located at 500 E. Fourth Street. Celebrity models include Art Acevedo, Lisa Copeland, Manny Flores, Christopher Garvey, Greg Hamilton, Rachel McCoy, Carla McDonald, Berry Spears, Donna Stockton Hicks and Sonia Wilson.
Former Dallas Cowboy Chad Hennings is set to speak during the evening dinner. University of Texas football legend and former Detroit Lions All Pro, Doug English and his wife, Claire, will be honored with a Lifestyle award. Doug is the founder and president of the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation, which works to find a cure for spinal cord injury.
“We are honoring them for the wonderful example they provide in community service, inspirational leadership and a respectful, loving marriage,” Stephenson said.
Edith Royal steps out on stage at A Day to Shine 2012.
Limited $175 individual tickets to the evening event are still available. For information contact Arianne Stuerzel at SafePlace at 356-1573.