HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- On the grand staircase at Henrico’s Dominion Club, more than a dozen women and children helped model the latest fashions, each looking glamorous in Chico’s and Lilly Pulitzer labels.
At first sight, you’d never imagine that each model was facing a courageous battle with cancer. Some enduring months of chemotherapy, radiation and multiple surgeries.
Cheryl Tankersley started the “Laughter in the Rain” event six years ago, when she realized as a beauty salon owner, the incredible need of women and children to be feel supported and “beautiful” while undergoing therapy.
“We need each other,” Tankersley says. “We need compassion and our warriors really need this night for hope and for encouragement.”
Among the models was 11-year-old Josephine Economy, who was diagnosed in 2019 with Ewings Sarcoma. Economy says the wig she received from Tankersley, helped boost her confidence, enabling her to reach out to help other children fighting cancer.
“I think I’m doing pretty well,” says Economy with a large smile. “Getting the wig was surprisingly a lot easier.”
“This one was special because someone was kind enough to donate their own hair to make this wig,” adds Economy’s mother, Jennifer.
Besides a fashion show, more than 350 guests were also treated to music, inspiring stories and 26 vendors offering support services. Breast cancer survivor and Real Housewives of New York star, Bershan Shaw, was the night’s keynote speaker. CBS 6’s Reba Hollingsworth, Tracy Sears and Greg McQuade helped emcee the event.
While Tankersley said she contemplated canceling the event because of the rise in COVID cases, she says several women reached out saying they needed the moral support and encouragement from the community. Masks were required at Sunday night’s event.
“I’m a person that says to myself ‘what can I do with the influence I have?’ My influence just happens to be working with women and children with cancer,” Tankersley says. “I’m going to use that influence to bring hope and compassion and joy to them.”