Non-profit organization Runway of Dreams Foundation strives to bring adaptability, inclusion and opportunity into the fashion industry for people with disabilities. Associated clubs are popping up all over the country, and a new one has just joined the university.
Each university involved with the foundation shares the goals of inclusion within the industry and the mainstreaming of adaptable clothing. According to its website, Runway of Dreams Foundation believes that clothing is a basic human need, and it develops, delivers and supports programs that celebrate people’s differences. Their mission is to break down stereotypes and showcase people with disabilities in fashion.
Clare Catanzaro, a junior fashion merchandising major and president of the club, helped bring Runway of Dreams to the university and has a personal connection to the organization.
“I first heard about this club through my family friend who was born with a physical disability, and all his life, he would struggle with clothing and would have to get things altered,” Catanzaro says. “His mom found out about the foundation and is now the executive director, so she asked me to start it here at UD, which I was super excited to do.”
Members of the club’s executive board share the same interests and are excited to be a part of the club.
Lauren Salmonson, a junior health behavioral science major and vice president of the club, says she loves how inclusive and rewarding Runway of Dreams Foundation is, and the organization has been eye-opening for her. With a focus on health and disability studies, she says this is an organization she would still love to work with in the future.
“I was excited to help start the Runway of Dreams [club] here at UD, because my really good friend goes to the University of Michigan and is in the club there, which inspired me to join here,” Salmonson says. “I think everyone should be able to express themselves through fashion.”
Kate Creswell, a junior fashion merchandising major, says she enjoys all of the positivity and inclusiveness that comes along with the organization and wants everyone to feel confident in the clothes they wear.
“What I really like about this organization is that it brings so much positivity and is inclusive of all people — it’s really important for everyone to feel confident in what they are wearing,” Creswell says. “I would want to stay connected because all of the people that we have met so far are so great and inspiring, I would want that for the rest of my life.”
Come fall 2021, the club hopes to have plans in place for in-person and virtual events, depending on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. They also wish to partner with other campus organizations by doing contests, fundraisers and other events to help boost awareness.
“We have plans to have our first fashion show in the fall semester,” Catanzaro said. “Until then, we have profit shares in the works and are brainstorming ideas to begin raising funds as soon as possible. Everything we do will go right back to the foundation. All of the money and awareness will benefit the foundation as a whole.”
The club held their first interest meeting on May 4 and now have 68 members as a part of its team. In future meetings, they hope to have the founder of Runway of Dreams Foundation, Mindy Scheier, to come as a guest speaker and share her story with the members. The club is open to everyone irrespective of their major.
Stav Halakos, a junior marketing major, says she is excited to be a part of this organization and to help bring it to campus.
“This organization radiates positivity and could really affect many people. I truly believe this organization will make such an impact here at UD,” Halakos says. “We are trying to emphasize to the people who are interested in joining, to repost and share with their friends so we can grow.”