The Daily Gamecock

Gala funds cancer research

Annual event showcases survivor’s spring 2011 fashion collection

Partnering with nationally acclaimed fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo, USC’s Center for Colon Cancer Research presented the Fifth Annual Unmasking Colon Cancer Gala on Saturday at Coplon’s.

With attendees such as USC President Harris Pastides and First Lady Patricia Moore-Pastides, as well as Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and his wife, the gala was the largest Unmasking Color Cancer event since the campaign’s inception, and featured a fashion show by Valvo, an auction, live music, hors d'oeuvres and dancing.

The galas began in Charleston in 2007 in memory of Betty Anne Moore. Galas have been held there, Greenville and Columbia.

Valvo, a colon cancer survivor himself, showed his spring 2011 collection composed mostly of evening gowns and cocktail dresses. He began with blue as the theme of the evening was “Covered in Blue”.

Looks seemed to give ode to his past stints at Parisian ateliers Nina Ricci and Christian Dior but proved also to be very wearable, which accounts for his stocklistings including Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue and Bloomingdales among others. Accessories for the looks were provided by Coplon’s.

“I’ve never seen so much energy and synergy and love for what you guys do,” said Valvo in his post-show speech.

Valvo also designed scarves and ties with the colon cancer star featured on them that were available for purchase with 100 percent of the sales going toward colon cancer prevention and education.

Sitting front row at the show was Rodrick Samuels, a master stylist in Summerville, S.C. Samuels was brought on to the team by Angie Davis about three years ago and has been working with them since that time in a program called Shop Talk.

A trainer in the program, Shop talk aims to spread awareness to barbers and hair stylist to encourage them to discuss the topic with clients. Samuel’s mother was a victim of cancer.

Davis, one of the major spearheads of the campaign, said that the program reached out to Valvo after he did a PSA with Vanessa Williams for the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance.

“I realized a few years ago that I was to use my fashion platform for this,” Valvo said. Valvo joined the initiative in 2010 and continues on now with upcoming visits to Charlotte and Charleston in the next few weeks.

The initiative has raised almost half a million dollars in it’s five-year existence in an attempt to prevent and educate people about the second cause of cancer death in America. This amount comes after all expenses with ticket sales, contributions and even the auction all going toward the cause..

The disease claims close to 800 lives each year in South Carolina alone, yet the state is leading the nation in Colon Cancer research.

Partners include Blue Cross Blue shield, The American Cancer Society and Lexington Medical Center among others. Sponsors like CVS Caremark go above the call of duty by expanding efforts to Florida and North Carolina.

“We’re all soldiers in the same army, and that is to get people screened and make a dent in the deaths of one of the most preventable cancers,” Pastides said. “The war has just begun, and Carolina will come out on top.”

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month and April is Colon Cancer Screening month.