By Mia Summerson
Niagara Gazette —
The fight against cancer has a new opponent, which has taken the form of 75 children who will be putting on a fashion show to help raise money and create cancer awareness.
Comedian and Niagara Falls native Ernie Bivins says he’s always been comfortable in front of people, but for a long time he has felt the need to channel his fan base in a direction that will help people.
“This has been a burning desire for years,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do an event for cancer. I’m trying to raise awareness through little kids and I’m going to give the proceeds to a cancer foundation.”
Since losing his aunt to colon cancer, Bivins said he has come to understand how crucial it is to take care of your self. He wants to inform others about the importance of staying healthy and said he was especially interested in educating children.
“You have to teach kids about this at a young age, that was my whole goal.” Bivins said. “You never know who is going to be what, you just have to be out there and surround yourself with positive people and you’ll be alright. You never know what these kids are going to be in life.”
The kids involved in the fashion show range in age from 4 to 12 and are a combination of children of Bivins’ friends and children selected from open auditions. Instead of modeling any particular clothing or styles, each child will be dressed by their parents in whatever they like, because as Bivins put it, “No one can dress your kids like you.”
Throughout the organization of the fashion show, Bivins has worked closely with local singer-songwriter Marsha McWilson, who is a coordinator for LEWAC, (Lasting Education for Women, Adults and Children) and has held several events to help raise money to battle cancer.
Bivins approached McWilson a couple years ago at one of her benefits. He says he was so moved by what she was doing that it motivated him to get involved.
According to McWilson her event has gotten so big over the past couple of years that it’s getting hard to accommodate all the people that want to come. Ernie will be donating the proceeds of the fashion show to help McWilson have another successful year.
“There will be an informational meeting and a concert benefit in October,” McWilson said. “I’m looking forward to saving more lives this year.”
Principle James Spanbauer of Niagara Falls High School, where the fashion show will be held, has also been working with Bivins in preparing for the show.
“He’s great to work with,” Bivins said of Spanbauer. “He’s been telling me, ‘Ernie if you need something let me know’, he knows it’s a great event.”
Bivins says that he would like to make this show happen monthly throughout the summer, each year, gradually adding more and more kids, and hopefully raising more and more money. He added that his ultimate goal would be to raise enough to donate $25,000 from a single show.
Bivins will donate proceeds from this show live on stage. In the future he said he would like to work with other organizations such as Roswell to help make each show bring in more people and more money to donate.
Rehearsals for the shows have been held on Wednesdays for the past two months at the Doris Jones Resource Center on 9th Street. The runway for the actual show will be in the auditorium at NFHS and will be broadcast live on channels two and four.
The fashion show will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $10 at the door or $12 pre-sale.