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Archive for ‘February, 2007’

Moved by the rising death toll and the violence in Sudan, Mal Sirrah designer Malcolm Harris and model Lydia Hearst-Shaw organized a fundraiser for Darfur as the Fashion Week finale. Models, who worked for free, hit the runway in clothing and accessories donated by more than 70 designers.

Shoe-maker Steve Madden provided shoes, bags and clothes. Aveda provided hair and makeup.

So, how is this a fundraiser? Clothing and accessories featured in the show are being auctioned on eBay (www.ebay.com) to benefit the Save Darfur Coalition.

All of the profits are going to the coalition. The auction ends Thursday.

Designers used four colors, those often associated with Africa: red, yellow, green and black.

Among those contributing were Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Carmen Marc Valvo, Chado Ralph Rucci, Tracy Reese, Catherine Malandrino, Costume National, Heatherette, L.A.M.B., Rachel Roy and Nanette Lepore.

But still, I applaud Harris, Hearst (daughter of Patty), Madden, Aveda and all those involved.

Like George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey, they’re using their power and influence to shine a light on a very dark corner of our world.

A friend asked if I really thought buying a designer dress would make a difference in Darfur?

Yes, I truly do.

A dress, a T-shirt, a necklace, a pin, a scarf can send a signal of awareness.

If the message isn’t clear or universal, hopefully and ideally, the wearer can explain the crisis or the cause.

Back in the office, during a meeting Tuesday morning, I noticed that a male co-worker was wearing a yellow “Live Strong” rubber bracelet.

Since 2004, millions of those awareness bracelets have been sold at $1 to benefit Lance Armstrong’s foundation for cancer research.

That’s just one example of many.

The fashion industry as a whole has raised millions for the fight against AIDS/HIV, to help the 9-11 recovery, to benefit tsunami relief and to aid Hurricane Katrina survivors.

The money from DesignersForDarfur goes to a coalition leading the effort to help end the violence (www.savedarfur.org).

Since 2003, more than 400,000 Sudanese have died. More than 5 million people in the Sudan have been displaced and are struggling to survive.

If a dress or a wristband helps even one person — or inspires someone to come up with a workable solution, it’s worth it.

Tyrus Thomas has taken criticism from the media, been insulted on national television by Charles Barkley, and watched his playing time rise and fall frequently during his rookie season. But whenever Thomas hits times of trouble with the Bulls, all he has to do is look at his left wrist to put the NBA world into perspective.

Thomas wears a rubber bracelet honoring longtime friend Ryan “The Franchise” Francis, who was shot and killed in Baton Rouge, La., while riding in the passenger seat of a car on May 14, 2006.

Sometimes before games, Thomas writes Francis’ name on his shoes, along with the No. 12 his friend wore as a freshman point guard at USC.

“He definitely keeps me focused and keeps me going at the task at hand,” Thomas said. “I write it on my shoes sometimes. But just being on my wrist, I mean, you’ve got to see your wrist all the time. I haven’t taken (the bracelet) off since I got it.”

The Bulls’ Tyrus Thomas wears a bracelet to honor friend Ryan Francis, who was shot and killed in May 2006. (Associated Press)

Thomas guessed that he first met Francis when they were 7 or 8 years old.

“We played almost every day, like pickup, rec ball or biddy ball,” Thomas recalled. “When we got to high school, we went to rival schools.

“He was just a good kid. You ask anybody, they’d say the same. He was the best. A good person. You loved to be around him.”

When asked about Francis, Thomas’ face doesn’t turn sad. Instead, he smiled while recounting memories of his lost friend.

“He was just like one of them guys; you could never be mad at him,” Thomas said. “Even if you were mad at him, you couldn’t be mad at him. He would do something stupid and you’d try. But he was always laughing, always smiling, always clowning around.

“Just one of those guys if you were having a bad day and you were around him, you’d forget about whatever happened. He was just one of those special people.”

Francis wasn’t a bad basketball player, either. He led his high school to an undefeated season and Louisiana state championship as a senior, and then started at point guard during his first year at USC.

“He was more excited for me when I put my name in the (NBA) draft than I was, I think,” Thomas said.

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