LIVINGSTON, NJ - Livingston resident Mindy Scheier’s 501c3 organization Runway of Dreams was promoted on ABC’s The View Saturday. Scheier, whose son Oliver has a rare form of muscular dystrophy called Rigid Spine and is one of only 70 cases diagnosed in the world, championed this cause by endorsing Runway of Dreams on the two-segment network TV special.
After years of manipulating her son’s clothing to adapt to his differently shaped body, Scheier was inspired to create a company that collaborates with the fashion industry to adapt mainstream affordable clothing lines with wearable technology for the differently-abled community. According to Scheier, the Runway of Dreams website was down within minutes of The View’s conclusion — flooded by viewers who were inspired by the cause.
“Having The View dedicate so much time of their show to spotlight Runway of Dreams was such a testament to the importance of the mission that it has made other people step up and say, ‘We better start talking about this,’” Scheier said. “It seems to have picked up so much more momentum — people are talking about it and people are really getting behind the mission, ranging from families directly affected by this, all the way up to the media.”
Runway of Dreams is the first 501c3 non-profit organization to develop an adaptive version of existing apparel. Scheier said her mission is to alleviate any separation the differently-abled community feels by making inclusive clothes that are already mainstreamed that stores like Target, Kohl’s and others should be carrying.
There are more than six-million differently-abled children between the ages of five and 18, and more than 28.9 million people over age 18 who are also differently abled, who also need to shop for clothing. Right now, no major designers or manufacturers in the U.S. are designing for this population. Runway of Dreams empowers children to embrace and celebrate their differences, rather than feel shame, through this adaptive clothing line.
“They were so elated by the fact that they were able to communicate what they would have loved to wear or how they could help in making the items fit them,” Scheier said of the kids who model her clothing. “They loved having a voice in the world of fashion.”
Scheier, a fashion designer by trade, said this cause is especially close to her heart because of Ollie. She is also holding an “Olliepalooza Carnival” geared toward muscular dystrophy at Mt. Peasant Middle School on June 14. But Runway of Dreams goes further than that because it helps millions of differently- abled kids nationwide including seventh grade Livingston student Mary McNany, who modeled alongside Ollie on the show.
“My family as a unit is so involved and ingrained in this mission that goes so far beyond our own story with Oliver,” Scheier said. “The fact that we’re helping to be the voice of millions of people is truly a gift.”
Fellow Livingston resident Jamie Hammer also played her part in developing the nonprofit. Hammer, as one of the producers of The View, worked closely with Scheier to build the story and eventually pitched it to her higher-ups at ABC. According to Scheier, the groundbreaking length of time The View devoted to Runway of Dreams is virtually unheard of for someone who is not a celebrity. Scheier said Hammer’s dedication and The View’s exposure is going to be a major catalyst in the organization’s expansion.
The exposure is occurring just in time for Runway of Dreams’ new crowd-funding site designated to the Indie Go Go Campaign. In the eight days since the crowd-funding site launched, the Campaign has raised more than $11,800 from more than 70 individuals. By visiting the site, the community can help Scheier raise funds that go directly toward enhancing clothing modifications so that differently-abled children can fit into as many clothes as possible.
“I have spoken to so many families, some with children who are non-communicative and will never be able to dress themselves — but they would love to have them look adorable like other kids,” Scheier said. “That speaks volumes and there is no reason why that shouldn’t be and is really the plight of my mission.”
The Runway of Dreams adaptive clothing line seeks to reinforce the normalcy the differently abled experience in their own lives. The clothing is not only functional and fashionable, but is also affordable and sold in a major retail store for accessibility. Its goal is to collaborate with key partners in the fashion industry to develop, modify and adapt existing lines creatively mainstream adaptive versions of clothing. Eventually, the Runway of Dreams organization hopes to change the fashion landscape so that it’s inclusive of everyone.
“My big ask right now is for people to like our Facebook page, show their support to the Campaign, and say that they are behind this and want to see this go mainstream as well,” Scheier said. “The industry is missing such a huge population that is so incredibly loyal.”
Click HERE to read TAP’s prior article on Schier and Runway of Dreams.