Helping is in fashion

Catwalk serves as platform for Easterseals event

BOARDMAN — Bianca Severino’s list of pleasures includes listening to singer Taylor Swift, swimming, engaging in outdoor activities and participating in cooking classes.

“I swim like a fish,” Severino, 32, of Canfield, said with laughter.

She also is anything but shy about walking — including along a runway in front of hundreds to perform a bit of modeling from time to time.

Such a time again presented itself when Severino was among those who made their presence felt on the runway that was a centerpiece for the Angels of Easterseals’ 47th annual Spring Fashion Show and Luncheon at Mr. Anthony’s Banquet Centre, 7440 South Ave.

Lightweight boxing legend Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini appeared as a special guest.

Fashion-oriented businesses in Boardman that represented the gathering were Suzanne’s, ivory & birch Boutique, Chico’s and 850 Blues. Also, The Children’s Loft in Boardman hosted a children’s fashion show.

Bianca Severino, who received services from Easterseals of Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties as a child, received a kidney transplant at age 2 and has some developmental challenges, her mother, Gina Severino, said. Today, Bianca attends the Siffrin Academy in Austintown as part of its day program, her mother added.

Gina Severino and Bianca’s father, Robert Severino, accompanied their daughter on the runway as the younger Severino modeled in a bright flowered dress.

An estimated 540 people attended the program and luncheon, a primary goal of which was to raise at least $50,000 that will go toward Easterseals’ programs and stay within the agency, Susan Berny, Angels of Easterseals’ president, noted.

Angels of Easterseals serves primarily as the fundraising arm. About 50 volunteer “angels” conduct and host a variety of events each year, the largest of which is the fashion show, Berny said.

In addition, the agency has a center for those who are deaf, she said, adding that finding reliable transportation often is a major barrier for people with various challenges and medical needs.

“One of our primary goals is to create and maintain independence, and that looks different for everybody,” Jody Klase, Easterseals’ chief executive officer, said, adding that aim includes an adult day care option to keep older people out of assisted-living facilities and nursing homes.

Also, last month, Easterseals received a $327,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Aging in Columbus to open an adult day care center in Columbiana County, she said.

All of the fashion businesses showcased their line of apparel. One of those who modeled to spotlight one of Chico’s outfit combinations was Jennifer McHale of Canfield, who wore a laced, no-wrinkle purple nightshade pants suit ensemble.

McHale said that Thursday’s event marked the first time she had taken part in such a fashion show. She was on board with the idea after having heard about it from a friend, McHale added.

In 1951, the Rotary Club of Youngstown founded the local Easterseals chapter that began to offer therapeutic services and programs to children who had special needs. In 1967, the J. Ford Crandall Rehabilitation Center opened on the city’s South Side to expand such services to adults.

The Angels of Easterseals was established in 1976. Jack Walter, the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.’s director of communications, coined the name.


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