Courtesy of Karen Davis
While they can usually be seen dressed for battle, members of Columbus’ professional hockey team will soon trade in their uniforms for an evening of fashion.
The Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation is scheduled to hold its seventh annual “Black Tie Blue Jackets Style Show” Wednesday at Nationwide Arena. The event benefits pediatric cancer patients, called “heroes,” by raising money for various nonprofit organizations and initiatives that work in the area of pediatric cancer.
“Last year, we raised $200,000 and we’re hoping to exceed that this year,” said Jen Bowden, executive director of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation. “We’re looking like we’re on track to do that, to break that number.”
Bowden said the idea behind the runway show came from “Hats for Heroes,” a program started by former Blue Jackets center Tyler Wright to give hats to pediatric cancer patients going through chemotherapy.
The clothing featured in the show is from local boutiques. Aside from the runway portion, where players and their significant others walk out with child participants, the event includes a silent auction, live auction and a performance by the Columbus Children’s Choir.
Ali Humbert, fiancÃ©e of the Blue Jackets’ right wing Derek Dorsett, has participated in the style show for the past three years. She said having the event at Nationwide Arena has been great because it is held on center ice, where the hockey games are played. However, she said the experience for the players is quite different from an average game.
“It’s neat to see a different side of the players,” Humbert said. “They’re comfortable on the ice, they’re doing what they love to do, but getting them all dressed up in a suit and tie is a little bit out of their comfort zone, so it’s awesome.”
The 10 “heroes” in this year’s event range from age 4 to 16, but last year’s event had two participants in their 20s. One was Jared Sylvester, who now serves as a member of the event’s planning committee.
He said one of his roles this year has been to communicate with the children’s families and the “heroes” themselves throughout the planning of the event.
“This world that these kids are in I know so well, and I can relate to all the family members and the patients that are going through this,” Sylvester said. “It’s fun for me to give back to something that is worthwhile … I know from my own experience how life-tipping this event can be.”
Sylvester attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, but moved home to Columbus after being diagnosed with an osteosarcoma, a rare form of malignant bone cancer, in October 2010. He’s been in remission since October 2011 and said he plans to begin classes at Ohio State this fall.
Though Sylvester said he’s a fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets, his involvement with the event goes deeper than a desire for connections or season tickets.
“I’ve never seen joy on kids’ faces as I have the night of the event, it’s pretty spectacular,” Sylvester said. “They get a night to goof off and these kids don’t get a night that often to be relaxed and just be carefree … that’s a blessing to see and be around. That’s really why I do it.”
The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a “model meet and greet,” followed by dinner and then the style show. Tickets are $250 per person and include the dinner and a cocktail reception, but in an effort to draw a younger audience, Sylvester said young business professionals can purchase show tickets for $95 each. Tickets can be purchased at www.bluejacketsfoundation.org.