Breast cancer survivors celebrate life at Maimonides’ 10th annual Pink Runway

model at maimonides breast cancer pink runway show
Maimonides Medical Center raised more than $500,000 for its Breast Cancer Center at the annual Pink Runway fashion show last week.
Photo courtesy of Maimonides Medical Center

Maimonides Medical Center raised more than $500,000 for its Breast Cancer Center at the 10th annual Pink Runway Fashion Show last week.

Nearly 400 guests gathered at the Weylin in Williamsburg on Oct. 5 to watch 16 models — all breast cancer survivors — strut their stuff in full glam and sparkly designer dresses as they celebrated their survival. The crowds applauded the women as they blew kisses, waved and took their turn around the “circle of life” runway.

The Maimo team left the celebration feeling inspired by the strength of the women who participated, according to Ken Gibbs, president and CEO of Maimonides.

model at pink runway breast cancer fundraiser
One survivor twirled her way around the runway in a sparkly white gown. Photo by Jada Camille

“This is one of our favorite events that we do and I think it captures the spirit of Maimonides,” he said. “We celebrate the life inside of our patients and take care of them, work with them and partner with them as the whole human being.”

One model and survivor, Ornesha Watson, told Brooklyn Paper she was both excited and scared to model.

“It feels like a coming out. It’s just one of those moments where you’re embracing that this has happened. It’s still very fresh,” she said. “This is me now, a breast cancer survivor.”

Watson was first diagnosed with breast cancer in January, and said her journey has been full of chemotherapy and surgery — but thanks to the Maimonides staff, she trusted that she would be well taken care of. 

“I really trusted them that every thing was going to be okay. It was scary in the beginning but once you met them you feel like you’re going to be fine,” she said.

model at pink runway show
More than 400 people attended the show to cheer on the models and raise money. Photo courtesy of Maimonides Medical Center

Shikira Quamina, another participant, called her experience a “fast, crazy ride.” She too was nervous to participate in the fashion show at first, but with the support of her friends and family, she ultimately decided she wanted to celebrate hope.

“I can look back on this year and think positively because my friends and family have been so supportive. They’ve been amazing during this time,” Quamina said. “Here I am, a survivor and excited to celebrate.”

Dr. Patrick Borgen, chairman of surgery and director of the breast cancer program, said the center is happy to host events like the Pink Runway fundraiser because it supports the center’s work and it shows Brooklynites there is a medical center that can provide quality care.

“We’re so happy to be here,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “It’s a celebration and there are very few dry eyes in the house when these women who’ve been through chemo, radiation and surgery come out.”

woman in blue dress at pink runway fundraiser
One model blew a kiss to the crowd as she took her turn around the runway. Photo by Jada Camille

Up until the Maimonides Breast Cancer Center was founded in 2007, there was not a breast cancer center in Brooklyn, according to Borgen. Since then, they’ve brought quality care to over 6,500 women. 

“I have had the privilege of being part of the Pink Runway for 10 years, and each year, we leave this event even more inspired and committed to their care,” he said in a statement. “Their joy and pride in sharing this celebration with us fuels our passion, and the funds raised are so important to ensuring we do the very best by each and every individual who seeks our care.”