Be the Difference takes its fashionable fundraiser online

Styling for hope

By Deb Silverthorn

Be The Difference Foundation will strut the virtual runway at noon Wednesday, Nov. 18, to benefit Mary Crowley Cancer Research. 

The online fashion show will feature models who are survivors and thrivers of ovarian cancer, Kendra Land, Susan Levy, Katie Kardell and Shirley Williams. They’ll be wearing frocks styled by influencers Heather Anderson (@soheatherblog), Jennifer Berger (@miamistylemom), Mallory Fitzsimmons (@styleyoursenses) and Ellen Dickenson (@theperennialstyle).

“We’ve created a terrific event and we’re glad to share it with a wider audience than ever before,” said Jill Bach, who is co-chairing Runway for Hope with Carol Kreditor. “We already have over 100 participants, many of them first-time supporters.”

The show will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. 

Since 2012, the organization, which was co-founded by Bach, Helen Gardner of blessed memory, Lynn Lentscher and Julie Shrell, has provided nearly $2.4 million in grants to agencies for research, growth, support, education and awareness. Each year, more than 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and more than 50% of the patients die within five years.

“During COVID-19, we have not had to close our doors, and we have been able to continuing serving our patients, since March,” said Deborah Montonen, vice president and chief development officer at Mary Crowley Cancer Research. The organization serves approximately 500 patients each year.

“Our partnership with Be The Difference Foundation opens more ovarian cancer trials and allows us to serve more patients,” said Montonen. The organization has received more than $500,000 from Be The Difference Foundation over the past eight years. All funds from the foundation are earmarked for studies related to ovarian cancer. 

Longtime Dallas journalist Scott Murray will host the one-hour program, which will feature live updates on fundraising and show footage of the survivors being styled by the influencers while they share stories, style tips and fashion.

“I learned so much and we had fun,” said Susan Levy, working with stylist Heather Anderson. The two had tele-visits, meeting just once in person, masked and distanced. “My husband Arnold, and friend Dan Hight, were my camera crew. Of all the ‘can’t imagine’ moments in life, this has been one of them, but what a wonderful experience for a wonderful organization.”

Levy was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer 15 months ago, after experiencing severe exhaustion and stomach bloating. She has undergone chemotherapy treatments during COVID-19.

“I’m doing fine,” she said, “I feel well and I’m tolerating the treatment. I’m so grateful to be here every day.”

Dallas native and influencer Jenny Berger of Miami Beach worked with Shirley Williams via Zoom for the event. “I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this experience which gives hope and saves lives,” said Berger, daughter of Jorge and Sofia Poliak, who lives in Miami Beach, Florida, with her husband Chase and two children. 

Runway for Hope models will wear fashions from Nordstrom, Style Your Senses and Karina Grimaldi. Kendra Scott, through the company’s Kendra Gives Back program, will donate 20% of sales, in store and online, Nov. 18.

“This year has been beyond difficult, and we’re grateful to, through this online event, introduce Be The Difference Foundation, to a national, even international, audience,” said Jon Mize, the foundation’s events and corporate partnerships manager. “Our patients, medical teams and supporters have been remarkable, and we remain strong in our efforts to be on everyone’s radar.”

To register for the Virtual Runway for Hope, or to make a donation, visit To shop through the Kendra Gives Back program, visit, code GIVEBACK-0ef1.

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