Yatin Nerella never imagined himself strutting a stage in nothing but his underwear and painted head-to-toe with the muscular system of the body.
But the annual Anatomy Fashion Show put him exactly there — and he couldn't be more grateful for the experience, he said.
Nerella was just one of many students who paraded the Russell House Ballroom Monday night, showcasing all of the major organ systems through body paint.
The event is an annual fundraiser by the Phi Delta Epsilon pre-medical fraternity at USC. In the words of Parth Vashi, the Vice President of Finance for PhiDE, the anatomy fashion show is “an exhibition of human anatomy” with a focus on fundraising, education and community collaboration.
Nerella, a third-year student and PhiDE member, said the idea of participating in the event was always exciting, even before he was officially involved in PhiDE.
The Anatomy Fashion Show is marketed to potential new members during the rush process and is known as one of the most enjoyable fundraising events for members to partake in. This year was Nerella's first time being involved, and he was thrilled that the event lived up to its hype.
"It's a really fun time. I enjoyed it a lot, I think everyone did," Nerella said.
Nerella said striding down the runway gave him confidence, especially after a friend told him how great the painted muscles made him look up on stage.
"One of my friends told me: you could flex and the muscle you're trying to show off would show off," Nerella said.
The profits are generated from the fashion show’s silent auction, ticket sales and online donation page. The money is given to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH)is a nonprofit organization that provides charitable medical care to over 10 million children annually across the United States and Canada, according to its website.
The 170 hospitals provide children and their families with critical care and life-saving services. The organization is reliant on donations from the community, as Medicaid and insurance programs do not fully cover most medical expenses.
“It's a really rewarding experience to be able to be a part of something that raises so much money for an organization that only does good for so many people across the country,” Vashi said. “Regardless of how you pay or where you pay, every penny of it goes straight towards (Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals)."
Nerella said the collaborative fundraising efforts were essential to raising over $3,600 in this year's donation season.
"Friends, family, everything like that. We all help each other try to raise as much money as possible," Nerella said.
Nerella said he was thankful to participate in an event with so much community impact, and hoped the audience felt the same.
"I hope each attendee and each person who went takes away the fact that they helped raise money for a really good cause, and it's something really worthwhile and meaningful in their time," Nerella said.
Along with collaborating with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, other student organizations are incorporated into the event to engage the greater USC community.
This year, Vashi sought out the singing group Cockapella and the Carolina Moksha Dance Club, who each performed their respective numbers during intermission.
“I think that in addition to, you know, having people come out to a PhiDE event, that can also be a way for them to be exposed to different things on campus as well. And so I thought those two organizations would be a great fit,” Vashi said. “We believe that collaboration is essential to our success and to the community's success and for CMNH as well.”
Kaitlyn Speiser, the president of Cockappella, said the group’s involvement in the fashion show was a great way to support the goals of PhiDE while also sharing their voices with fellow USC community members.
“We obviously love performing whenever we can, but especially events that are happening on campus and anywhere that we can perform on campus and get involved with different organizations, create those relationships and support other organizations who can, in turn, they can support us in the future,” Speiser said.
Vashi said he understood that many attendees weren't in the medical field. Regardless, he hoped the audience went home with important, lasting impressions about the capabilities of their own bodies.
"I think it's important to spread that kind of information just because of how pertinent it is to our lives, and even though you don't really want to do anything with it in the future, it's cool to know," Vashi said.