Austin men opt for dresses

Published 8:09 am Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Look for Profiles 2011 in the Sunday, Feb. 27 edition of the Austin Daily Herald. Read about dozens of inspirational community members and leaders in the 84-page special section on Sunday.

Dudes will look like ladies Saturday at the Oak Park Mall for cancer.

That’s what Kathy Wichmann of Thrivent Financial Lutheran has told 14 male volunteers (thus far) who are participating in a men’s runway show this weekend, part of a heart disease and cancer fundraiser called Red, White and Pink.

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“We went outside the box on the whole event,” Wichman, who helped organize the event, said.

While the main attraction is the men’s runway show, there are more than 20 organizations, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Hormel Institute, Lyle Area Cancer and Hy-Vee that will give presentations, have speakers or set up tables to inform people how they can stay healthy.

Yet the real fun lies in seeing which community members have been nominated by their peers to dress up and “strut their stuff” before the audience. Anyone can nominate a male resident by contacting Thrivent beforehand and paying a $10 fee.

The lucky few who’ve been nominated by Saturday will be dressed in ladies’ red, white and pink clothes and walk on a runway set up by the old Maurice’s area. People can still nominate their family and friends at the event Saturday, but organizers will limit the nominees based on how many ladies’ clothes they have. Those unwilling to do a runway walk can get out of it by paying $25 to the fundraiser.

In addition, there will be activities like chair massages and groove hopscotch, part of the Do Groove campaign by BCBS. There will also be talks from local leaders like Larry Ricke of Lyle Area Cancer, Pastor Jeff Forbes of Grace Lutheran Church and Gail Dennison of the Hormel Institute. There will be multiple booths with products designed to make residents feel better about themselves and feel healthier on an all-round level. Residents can even chime in on how to make the event better, as it’s something that could turn into an annual affair, according to Wichmann.

“It’s been very well received amongst everyone and we’re excited about that,” she said.

“This is going to make you feel better, and we want you there.”

Red, White and Pink will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Oak Park Mall. Half of the proceeds will go to the American Heart Association, while the other half will go to LAC.