Planes surrounded the catwalk as the lights dimmed. Strutting down the runway came four feet of sass, Alex Ladin, the first of many student models in Greenhill’s fourth annual Runway for a Cause.
The late January event, entirely student-run, benefited the Grant Halliburton Foundation, which works towards promoting mental health for teenagers.
The event chairs, seniors Madison Pidgeon and Caroline Early, raised more than $8,000 for the charity.
“We believe that it truly impacts the lives of teens who struggle with mental instability. We have teens in our school who struggle with mental illness,” Pidgeon said. “It really hit home to us that people our age were working through these issues.”
For Pidgeon and Early, who gathered runway donations from local stores like Gypsy Wagon and Tootsies, organized sponsors like Kendra Scott and Shutterfly, and wrangled 60 models from kindergarten to 12th grade, the choice in a foundation to benefit from their hard work was easy.
“There is nothing more beautiful than the good being done by these young people. The real beauty is seeing them reach out to embrace what is by far the most life-threatening issue of their own generation: mental health and suicide,” said Vanita Halliburton, president of the Grant Halliburton Foundation. “Doing good is always in fashion.”
The Grant Halliburton Foundation was founded in 2006 in memory of Vanita’s son, Grant, who comitted suicide at 19 after battling depression and bipolar disorder.
“I love that they pick a charity each year that resonates with them and makes it meaningful to all involved,” said Laura Ross, head of the Greenhill Upper School. “I am thrilled that they picked the Grant Halliburton Foundation both last year and this year, as I think the work they do in the Dallas community is critical.”
Held in a hangar at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, there was not an empty seat available. Wearing swim trunks, jumpsuits, kimonos, and other spring trends, the student models strutted their stuff with full hair and makeup, thanks to local beauty schools.
Working with model fittings, high school schedules, marketing their event, and making sure all the pieces fell together was no easy task.
“They have learned how to manage their peers which is always difficult, along with learning about PR, making connections with adults, and soliciting for donations from businesses,” Ross said. “They have also learned lessons about how to make an event self-sustaining by each year being intentional about training younger students to take over.”
Pidgeon and Early received advice from the school’s administration and Sally Rosenberg, director of community service and service learning, but for the most part, organized the event on their own.
“Greenhill is always looking for ways to support their students,” Early said. “This has been a great way to get the whole community involved that also brings an important issue to everyone’s attention.”