Fashion Show Co-Producers Mackenzie Karsten and Daniella Byrnes, both KSU seniors

Ikram Toumi and husband Mourad Krifa, Director Of KSU’s School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, with Sharlene Ramos-Chesnes

On February 8, the InterContinental Hotel Cleveland hosted nearly 240 guests decked out for the first annual Haute for the House fundraiser and fashion show, presented by sponsor SITE Centers. The event, benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Northeast Ohio, raised more than $165,000.

For 50 years, RMHC has focused on caring for families so they can care for their children. Its mission is to enhance the healthcare experience for families and children through comfort, care and supportive services. In 2023 alone, 25,000 families were supported in Cleveland and Akron’s houses.

Guests enjoyed fanciful food stations, open bar with specialty cocktails, a silent auction, wine toss, and photo booth in the second-floor foyer and ballroom. Attendees entered fashion week city-themed raffles from

Maria Paxos with Emcee Andrea Wlaszyn

Paris, Milan, London and New York. The live auction included a mink coat, diamond earrings and a Mexican resort stay.
Kent State University School of Fashion presented a not-to-be-missed fashion show featuring original works by 17 students in the program. The fashion show was co-produced by students Daniella Byrnes and Mackenzie Karsten, both seniors. Shoes were paired with each design, courtesy of moon d’elle, a sister-owned company.

Event volunteers Lisa and Billy Vagi of Elyria have first-hand experience with the Ronald McDonald House. Their family was helped through their son Finn’s diagnosis with a rare form of epilepsy at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. Their daily commute when Finn

Billy and Lisa Vagi

had a prolonged hospital stay at six months of age was 45 minutes, sometimes four times a day. RMHC provided no-cost temporary housing for the family at its Euclid Avenue location. Along with accommodations, they were provided free parking, shuttle transportation to the hospital, warm meals, hot showers and children’s activities. Finn’s older sister Isla enjoyed her time there so much, she thought it was a family vacation. Luckily today at 2 1/2 years old, Finn is now seizure free and medication free.

Chyllaum Foster was awarded best-dressed guest from the event. But the Best in Show $1,000 scholarship winner was Angelique Wong, who received her Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design in May 2022. Wong is now pursuing her Master of Science in Emerging Media and Technology at Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information.

RMHC launched a fundraiser raffle on March 1, for a Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon collection. Tickets are available through April 10, or whenever 1500 tickets are sold. Purchase tickets here: https://www.rmhcneo.org/pappy-van-winkle-raffle/

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREA C. TURNER