MJ Meets: Runway On The Rapids
By Mollie Jo Swendrowski
Last Friday the Runway on the Rapids event took place at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids. I was lucky enough to be asked to attend and write a piece on it. However, before I get to that I have a story about fate and how everything happens for a reason.
But then Friday came along and I absolutely did not want to go. I worked all day, I was tired, I did not want to dress up, and certainly did not want to drive to Grand Rapids.
Of course I did all of this anyways. I left work (still tired) and got dressed (begrudgingly). I was supposed to take my mom’s car so I wouldn’t have to use my own gas (thanks Mom!) but was in a rush to leave and forgot and hopped into my trusty blue Saturn Ion that I lovingly refer to as Dory.
Now, Dory is not a young lass, but she still has lots of life left. But as is the case when anything gets older...
...certain parts wear down and break. Earlier in the week Dory had some surgery to replace an axle and something in the steering column, so I was excited to spend some time with her driving to Grand Rapids.
So there we were, Dory and I, cruising down the road and listening to some Broadway tunes, when I am about to cross the train tracks in Kent City and CLICK POP went something under my car.
I don’t know much about cars, but I knew that was not a good noise. I pulled over and discovered my car would not stay in park, which I also knew was not good news.
Then I did what most panicked 28 year old girls do in a car related emergency: call my parents (who of course were out to dinner). My dad got a hold of my mechanic and he came to check out the car. In the meantime I called my boss to come rescue me and he kindly let me use his vehicle to continue on my way to the Runway event, which I was getting dangerously close to missing.
Naturally there was construction where I needed to be downtown, and a $12 parking fee later I was sprinting in heels through downtown to get to the J.W. before the show started. (Side note: I should have known better as an event planner by trade that this show would NOT start at 8:30 on time and relaxed and not ran since I ended up with a stellar blister, but I digress.)
Once inside I was able to check in and get my name tag and browse the silent auction. I missed the food which was a disappointment because at this point I was ravenous. The silent auction had a variety of salon and makeup packages, as well as some fun travel (haunted asylum tour in Traverse City, anyone?), Whitecaps box seats, and various electronics.
Here is where fate comes into play. Many of the “open seating” seats had been claimed earlier in the evening, so I managed to grab one near the front of the stage in between two groups of women. I sat next to a girl my age and we started talking when I learned that her aunt was the headlining fashion designer (Siss Viss) for the show.
I learned that Siss Viss is a retiree from Memphis and does all of her designing as a hobby. Her claim to fame is using recycled bicycle tires in her designs, and having witnessed it first hand I can tell you that it truly is as cool as it sounds.
All of the designers and salons had incredible outfits and hairstyles put together for women and men, and the models looked like they were having the time of their lives. Some were professionals, some were volunteers, and others were diagnosed with MS themselves. Honestly? I couldn’t tell who was who.
It seems that everywhere you looked at this event there was someone involved who was touched by this horrible disease. It was started by a woman who wanted to help the program that was changing her life. I mentioned above that some of the models had MS. The auctioneer lost his wife to MS. The personal connections just made the night that much more special, and it aided in the giving spirit of the evening.
Sure, on Friday my car broke down and that was slightly terrifying. If I had taken my mom’s car I would have made it to the event earlier and probably would have sat down somewhere and not bothered talking to anyone around me because I was in a rotten mood, and I certainly would not have lucked out with such a close seat next to the family of the headlining designer.
But because my car broke down I realized a few things:
Friday night was a blessing in disguise. I cannot wait for Runway on the Rapids next year to be immersed in the love I felt all over again.
Mollie Swendrowski is a curious soul eager to explore the world whose mind works in references to “Hamilton”, "How I Met Your Mother", and anything Disney. A self admitted lake snob, she would rather be on a boat in fresh water than on land. Mollie is a former Walt Disney World Cast Member and spends much of her little free time planning as many trips as possible back to her kingdom because too much Disney is never enough for her. Her love of classic Disney films and Broadway musicals causes her to randomly break out in song and still renders her confused when woodland creatures don’t assist her with cleaning."
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