HAZARD — A fashion show fundraiser, held at The Forum at the Hal Rogers Center in Hazard, generated $1,900, all of which will be donated in aid of Hazard Police Department Lt. Paul Campbell.
The Herald reported earlier this year that 31-year-old Campbell was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Since that time, the community has devised many ways to raise funds to support him. This latest effort, organized by Tammy Asher and Jackie Asher, of Studio A Photography, brought together nearly 35 young models from the area and close to 100 spectators.
The models ranged in age from Kindergarten- through college-aged, according to event organizers.
“The original goal was to do a fashion show and bring in the young ladies,” Jackie Asher said. “Then, we started thinking, ‘Let’s take it a step above.’ That’s when we decided to do the fundraiser, and we thought of Paul.”
“We identified Lt. Campbell as someone we needed to help,” said Tammy Asher. “He’s in a position that he needs help, and he risks his life, as a police officer, for us to protect us.”
Jackie Asher said she learned about Paul Campbell and his fight against cancer on Facebook. She said he was mentioned many times as those she knew participated in a “cold water challenge,” a popular fad on the social media site that required people to be doused with ice-cold water before “calling out” the names of others, who would have to complete their own challenge within 24 hours. If the person failed to do so, then he or she had to donate money to a charity of the initial challenger’s choice.
“I didn’t do mine, and I felt bad,” she said. “So, this is me making up for my cold water challenge.”
Jackie and Tammy said they asked every girl to sell 20 tickets to the show. At $5 apiece, the girls would have been able to raise $100 each, they said. In addition to raising money for Campbell, Jackie and Tammy said they wanted to encourage community involvement for the girls, as well as to increase their self-esteem.
Vanessa Thornsberry, a student at Morehead University, who volunteered to model in the show, said walking in front of the crowd really helped to boost her confidence. But, she said, she had an even bigger reason for participating.
“I knew firsthand how important this event would be for him (Campbell),” Thornsberry said.
Thornsberry explained that her mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer in August 2011, and had passed away in December of the following year.
“It was a struggle for her to pay for medical bills, gas to get to chemo appointments, and for prescriptions,” Thornsberry continued. “I’m sure Mr. Campbell’s family appreciates all of the money raised from the event and the support of so many people. They will be able to use that money for many things throughout his treatment.”
The event drew a few local celebrities. Chas Gayheart, a former news anchor for WYMT, served as the evening’s emcee; Vicco Mayor Johnny Cummings walked the runway as the night’s special guest model; and, Knott County’s Tawny Aguayo, a 2014 contestant for Miss Kentucky, modeled while also helping the other participants with their walking and makeup.
“The funny thing about this whole event is that none of us even know Lt. Paul Campbell personally,” Tawny Aguayo said. “To me, this is the epitome of small-town Appalachia - we’re family and we stand behind each other whether we know each other or not.”
Jackie Asher said clothing for the event was donated by Maurices, Rue 21, Dion’s, Danison’s, and a new boutique that will be opening soon, Dragonfly Landing.
Paul Campbell was unable to attend the fashion show due to undergoing treatments, Asher said. She did, however, say that she had spoken with him on Tuesday of last week and that he was so appreciative of what everyone was doing.
Mindy Miller can be reached at 606-436-5771 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.