LIVINGSTON, NJ – What started out as a Mitzvah project in honor of a best friend with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL Leukemia) has turned into a labor of love for two local teenagers.

On Sunday, March 22, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., eighth graders Ashley Raz of Livingston and Tallie Elisha of Short Hills are holding the Second Annual Catwalk4Cancer fundraiser to raise funds for life-saving pediatric cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The event, which also boasts a speaker from Sloan, a strolling magician, an art project with Caring Capital, where children will create 50 12 x 12 heart collages with hand-written notes for the children at Sloan, food, vendor tables, a DJ, a raffle and more, is taking place at Eisenhower Corporate Campus in Livingston, which is located at 290 W Mt Pleasant Avenue. Nearly 300 people are expected to attend the event and tickets are $25 at the door.

The goal is to raise $50,000 for the cause. In 2013, the event raised over $37,000 and to date has already surpassed that by raising over $$47,942 so far.

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“Pediatric cancer research is extremely underfunded, with only three percent of all government funds going to it,” said Tracy Elisha, mom of Tallie. “Therefore, it is so important to hold fundraisers like ours in order to increase funds to for pediatric cancer research.”

Catwalk4Cancer is a fashion show with kids ages four to 14 modeling the newest fashions from local vendors in order to raise money for pediatric cancer.

According to the website, every year cancer kills more kids under the age 18 than all other childhood diseases combined—and the funding from the government and other sources hasn’t been enough to change this statistic. The Catwalk4Cancer hopes to bridge the funding gap, because 100 percent of the donations are used for pediatric research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Those interested may help the families meet their goal by clicking HERE to set up a fundraising team. The site says, “every dollar counts and together we will find a cure. Each dollar raised helps develop more effective treatments for childhood cancer. All support, improve the odds for children fighting cancer. We hope that someday, childhood cancer treatment will be as easy as a walk down the catwalk.”

Participating vendors include: The Schofel family & Eastman Properties (donated the corporate center, and their time for the event); Cornerstone Search Group (Steve Raz’s company); Caring Capital; Troy Curtis Group; Debbies Deisgns; Fresh Market; Lifetime Fitness; Wine Legend; Eppes Essen; Livingston Car Wash; Pink Jewels; and Thavma. Others include: 580 South, Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, Barre 3, Bee Bee Designs, Caring Capital, Company Store, Complements 2, DePasquale Artistic Academy, Elle Squared, Gotham, Herb n Spice, Johnson and Johnson, Kids At Heart, Lash House, Likewear, Little Miss Matched, Livingston Bagel, Love Letters, Marras, Nana's Deli, Party City, Pizzetta, Plume, Red Carpet Boutique, Shoe Inn, Shoprite, Starbucks, Stacy Borowsky, Sweet Basil, The House, The Strand and Chris Kazatsky Photography and William Zamlong Photography, who designed the website, marketing materials and t- shirts.

How it all Began

The Elisha family of Tracy, Erez, Tallie, 14, Sivan, 11, Shira, 9 and Evan, 5 and the Raz’s—Steve, Jennifer, Ashley, 14, Alec, 11 and Jesse, 9, have been best friends since Tallie and Ashley were two. In 2012 when Tallie was diagnosed, Ashley was there for her. She also saw how much Tallie endured and wanted to help. Im addition, Tallie saw many other children undergoing treatment while she was too and also wanted to help them. Thus, the fashion-loving girls created the Catwalk 4Cancer. Aside from planning the event, both girls also acted as models and will be doing so again this year.

Steve said, “Ashley and Tallie are excited to spear-head Catwalk4Cancer as a team for the second time. It is a cause near and dear to both of their hearts. Tallie has won the fight and Ashley has been her biggest cheerleader.”

“This is the second of many such fundraisers,” said the girls. “We will continue holding Catwalk4Cancer for as long as we can.”

Tallie said that planning the first event gave her something other than her cancer to think about and it gave both girls a way of handling Tallie’s illness in a positive way. Their parents, families, friends helped them with the event. Many local businesses that are also helping this year, chipped in to help too by donating/loaning clothing for the 40+ models, ages four to 14 to wear, food, the location, decorations, photography and more.

“The first event in 2013 meant so much to me because I was going through harsh treatments and it was so hard to see other kids suffering too,” said Tallie. “It is so great that we are raising money for pediatric cancer and it makes me feel good to help others going through something I went through.”

“This event means the world to me,” said Ashley. “I would do anything for Tallie and other sick kids to make sure that someday the world will be cancer free.”

 “Right now, I am in remission,” said Tallie. “I feel much better. My energy is coming back and I am starting to feel like my old self.”

“She looks amazing,” said Steve.

“I want to thank everyone for helping to make this possible and for supporting me through the past two years,” said Tallie. “I am so grateful to everyone for coming together to help me and other kids with cancer.”

 “I too am thankful to the community,” said Tracy. “They came together to help Tallie get through the most difficult time in her life.”

“I am very proud of the girls and also thankful to the community,” said Steve. “One day we will find a cure.”