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‘Follow the Fashion’: ‘Hearts on Your Sleeve’ show benefits ALS Association

Spend the evening checking out the latest local fashion while helping a great cause.

This is the third year for the “Hearts on Your Sleeve Jeff Highlander Memorial Fashion Show,” which will be held Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Hotel Albuquerque. The event raises money for the ALS Association, New Mexico Chapter.

The event has grown significantly since its inception.

“We’re changing it up this year,” said Katie Crouch, special events and development coordinator for ALS Association, New Mexico Chapter. “The past two years, it’s been tea room-style modeling, and it’s all been at Casa Esencia. We’ve kind of outgrown that space, so what we’re doing this year is we’re having it in one of the ballrooms at Hotel Albuquerque, and we have five different stores that will be participating this year. We have Gee Loretta! Articles for Her, Silk Road Connection, Catherine’s Cache, Back at the Ranch Boots – that’s located in Santa Fe – which are custom boots that will be featured throughout the show, which is really cool.”

About 18 models will hit the runway to show off clothing items from each of the participating local retailers. A cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres and music will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The fashion show will follow, and later models will direct eventgoers to Casa Esencia.

“We’re calling it ‘Follow the Fashion,’ so the models will walk off the stage and will escort people across the street over to Casa Esencia,” Crouch said. “We’ll have all of our raffle items, our silent auction items. We have specialty cocktails being made by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. We also have food and wine pairings, dancing, just a real fun little party afterwards just to get people excited to kind of join our cause and donate and check out our cool raffle items that we have.”

The event was created by committee Chairwoman Jill Sivage, whose brother, Jeff Highlander, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Highlander had the disease for six years before succumbing to it in 2017.

The fashion show generates revenue for ALS Association, New Mexico Chapter, which helps 100 to 110 people with ALS and their families each year. ALS is a costly disease, with needed equipment such as wheelchairs for ALS patients costing about $10,000. The average cost to an ALS patient annually is about $250,000, according to Crouch.

The ALS Association, New Mexico Chapter helps in a number of ways, including lending out needed equipment, issuing grants to help with medical expenses, medication costs and other related bills, as well as consolidating doctor visits through its multidisciplinary clinic at the University of New Mexico Hospital.

“They can be seen by each specialist that needs to be seen, all in one day, which does help them out,” Crouch said. “With ALS patients, they get tired very easily, so as you can imagine having to go to different appointments different days can be really exhausting for them, so at our clinic, they’re able to see the neurologist, (occupational therapy/physical therapy), speech language pathology, nutrition, all of that all in one day, so we kind of help with that too.”

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