Three local business have teamed up to present “Fashion Forward,” a fashion show and evening event to benefit the brother of a Wilton woman who suffered a spinal cord injury last year.

On the evening of July 26, the Brubeck Room at the Wilton Library will be transformed into a veritable fashion runway, with models who will strut the catwalk for a cause. They will be outfitted in fashions from local boutique Blue Star Bazaar, accessories from Stella & Dot and glammed up with hair and makeup from Whip Salon. Ticket sales will benefit The Testaverde Fund for Spinal Cord Injury in support of Marshal Schoener, brother of Wilton resident, Randi McDonnell.

GOOD Morning Wilton is honored to be a sponsor of the event to help support the effort.

One year ago, Schoener was enjoying a party at his home to celebrate the recent birth of his daughter. At the end of the evening, he dove into his swimming pool and misjudged the deep area. The impact resulted in a broken neck at the c-4 and c-5 vertebrae and a severe spinal cord injury. He spent weeks in the ICU and on a respirator, until he was transferred to Kessler Rehabilitation in New Jersey where he began a long and painful process of therapy.

Schoener’s insurance will no longer pay for inpatient therapy and he has been released from rehab to recover at home with his wife and two daughters, ages 8 years and 17 months.

Schoener’s sister and Wilton resident, Randi McDonnell, has made it her mission to help and she is working with local Wilton businesses to put on the Fashion Forward event. Funds raised will help Schoener get the therapy he needs and purchase equipment for his in-home rehabilitation.

“This unfortunate accident has completely altered my brother’s life,” McDonnell says. “I want to raise money by doing something fun and exciting in which I could involve my community, because together we can really make an impact. I loved the idea of hosting a fashion show and when I approached my friends who own businesses here in Wilton, they immediately jumped on it and its been a wonderful team effort to bring this event to life. We look forward to a stylish evening where we’ll use fashion to ‘pay it forward.’”

McDonnell is working with Megan Abrahamsen of Blue Star Bazaar, Melly Bonita, Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot, and Amy Pal, owner of Whip Salon, to bring this runway to reality. The team hopes to make this an annual event where they showcase their newest collections and trends to support worthy local causes.

For Abrahamsen, what happened to Marshal really resonated with her as a parent.

“Our health and ability to care for ourselves and our loved ones is something we can all easily take for granted. It’s something that can change in the blink of an eye. There are so many worthy causes but when thinking of Randi’s brother Marshal, I kept thinking that it could have so easily been my own or any other family going through the same situation. The funds we will raise are not just a drop in the bucket. With this event, we have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to household expenses and rehabilitation for Marshal and his family,” she says.

Bonita had similar emotions, and wanted to help.

“Someone’s life can literally be changed in an instant. From one moment to the next, you can go from living a perfectly healthy and normal life, to having to depend on doctors and medical support to live and that can be financially impossible. I truly believe in the power of a village and how the efforts of many can make a difference. I believe that the power of coming together as a community and using our businesses, talents and energy to do good can have a tremendous impact on people’s lives,” she says.

Pal agrees. “We are a part of a community to support one another and I admire how the Wilton community always supports each other in times of need. It is what we stand for at Whip, the power of positivity and local love, to help out our neighbors. We are flattered and excited to be a part of this important cause and show of support.”

For the fashion show, Blue Star Bazaar will be showing transitional styles just arriving in the store, that shoppers can start wearing now but will work straight through to fall. Bonita will be showcasing Stella & Dot’s Fall 2017 Collection which launches in mid-July, so fashion show guests will be the very first to see the latest styles and trends in Stella & Dot accessories (jewelry, handbags and scarves).

Tickets are $65 (adults only, 21 and over) and entitle the ticket holder to a fabulous night of fashion, including light bites, two beverage tickets and attendance at the fashion show.

To purchase tickets or make a donation toward the cause, please visit the Blue Star Bazaar website.