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Published April 21, 2012, 11:30 PM

HOPE Inc. fashion show shines spotlight on childhood disability

FARGO – Even without the bright stage lights aimed in her direction, Hope Fuglesten was all aglow after she worked the catwalk in her new lime-green dress.

FARGO – Even without the bright stage lights aimed in her direction, Hope Fuglesten was all aglow after she worked the catwalk in her new lime-green dress.

The 15-year-old from Buxton was one of several area children with disabilities who showed off their spring fashions Saturday during the second annual HOPE Inc. spring fashion show.

Before the show started, Hope had a slight case of the nerves but was still excited for the event.

“It makes them feel good about themselves,” Hope’s mom, Karen Fuglesten, said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re doing a fashion show or soccer or whatever, it’s just a great opportunity for them to do everything that somebody their age would typically do.”

Hope has spina bifida and restrictive lung disease, disabilities that require her to use a wheelchair to get around.

In 2009, Hope underwent intensive surgery in Arkansas that saved her life. She received titanium ribs to help her breathe more normally, since her disabilities left her with an inadequately small rib cage.

During Saturday’s fashion show, Hope and 33 other mobility-challenged children on the runway were met with cheers and applause from the audience of more than 250 who came out to support HOPE Inc.

Each of the children received $75 to buy their runway clothes, which they got to keep after Saturday’s show.

HOPE Inc. is a local non-profit run by Bill and Adair Grommesh, whose two children face disabilities and health challenges. In 2010, the Moorhead family was featured on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Saturday’s event was meant to raise awareness of HOPE Inc., while also benefiting the YWCA women’s shelter.

“It’s such a self-esteem booster,” Adair Grommesh said of the annual fashion show. “It makes them realize how pretty they are, not only on the inside but the outside.”

“It’s one of those things that most able-bodied kids and parents take for granted, and to be able to pull this off is just phenomenal,” Grommesh added.

Proceeds from the show’s silent auction will go toward funding next year’s fashion show, while toiletries and food items donated Saturday will benefit the YWCA.

“The kids realize they too can give back,” Grommesh said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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