‘Runway to Freedom’: Fashion show empowers human trafficking survivors

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PEPPER PIKE, Ohio — It is a fashion show that really is only somewhat about fashion.

It’s mostly about confidence.

On Saturday afternoon, the Renee Jones Empowerment Center hosted the Runway Freedom multicultural fashion show at Beech Brook in Pepper Pike.

“It’s an opportunity to empower those survivors,” said Jones. “So they can mingle with people who are not victims of human trafficking, so they can begin to re-integrate into society.”

FOX 8’s Suzanne Stratford served as the emcee for the event, which featured fashions from all over the world.

All the models got tips from an expert. “It was certainly a little tricky in the beginning,” said Elana Koh, who is the reigning Miss Ohio U.S. International. “But once they got their pivot turns, they got sassier, and they had a little more fun.”

Two victims, Pauline Stevens and Rachel Kaisk, said Jones helped them turn their lives around, ending dependency on drugs or alcohol, and on men who trafficked them for money.

Both said they have gone public in hopes of helping other young women who may be trapped today.

“If I can (change my life), trust and believe, you can do it too,” Kasik said.

“If you’re willing to do things just a little different,” Stevens adds, “there’s all kinds of hope for you.”

Renee Jones will be the keynote speaker at an Open House at the Carrington Youth Academy on Friday, July 25.

The program runs from 11:30am-4pm, and will include a light lunch and tours of the agency.

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