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Sisters on the Runway: Taking a Stand Against Domestic Violence

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A collage of fashion images at the Sisters on the Runway fashion show at the University of Massachusetts

With the university shifting to remote classes for the time being, we will be missing out on the vibrant campus life that is part of studying at a large institution. Not long before Spring Break, I attended the Sisters on the Runway annual fashion show, held on Sunday March 1, 2020.

Sisters on the Runway is a national nonprofit organization with the goal to fight and raise awareness against domestic violence. The national organization was founded in 2005 in Montclair, New Jersey and has since gained popularity on northeastern college campuses. Currently the UMass Amherst Sisters on the Runway chapter has over 300 members. All proceeds from the show went to benefit Safe Passage, a local shelter for survivors of domestic violence that is located in Northampton, MA. 

The Campus Center Auditorium, where the show took place, was completely transformed with the help of volunteers and the club members. Purple pedals lined the large stage and every chair had a large purple bow tied to the back, as domestic violence awareness is represented by the color of purple. Twinkling lights lined the walls and a “Red Carpet” was set up for photos before the show. 

At 6 p.m., doors opened to the public and guests helped themselves to the table of goodies featuring refreshments and sweet treats from Sweets & More, a student run business here at UMass Amherst. At 7pm, the show was opened by the host Yama Estime. She then introduced the Sisters on the Runway president Saheli Pujari and the Safe Passage director. 

The first two acts of the night were performances by UMass Dynamics and Rang, two of the nine a capella groups we have here on campus. After the two group performances, one of the Sparkling Crowns Pageant girls also wowed the audience through her heartfelt singing. 

Meanwhile, backstage, the models were lining up to walk. Liz, a freshman here at UMass Amherst, decided to model for SOTR because she wanted to step out of her comfort zone and has always loved being involved in philanthropic causes.” Her favorite part of being a model was the sisterhood the models had and feels like she really bonded with all of the other models. 

After attending weekly practices for the entire year, the time had finally come for the big show. In total, 22 models walked the runway the night of the show. They wore outfits/pieces sponsored by clothing stores like TJMaxx. Some of these outfits were loaned items while others were donated and sold by Sisters on the Runway. These proceedings were then donated to Safe Passage. Every model had three outfits to wear, and some had the pleasure of walking with the Pageant girls who represented Sparkling Crowns Pageant in Holyoke, MA. Host Yama Estime kept the crowd clapping and pumped up the models with her “oohs” and “ahhs”. 

The show was wrapped up by giving recognition to the E Board, who worked all year long to fundraise, promote, and put on the fashion show. Without the E board member’s tireless efforts, this show would not have been possible. 

Overall, the show was an immense success, and despite facing a handful of bumps in the road, the show was executed flawlessly. Not only was the show a lively and fun experience for all, but also benefited an extremely important cause: fighting against domestic violence. While campus will be missing events like this for the time being, I'm excited for the time when we'll all be together on campus again!


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