|Posted on September 28, 2012 at 3:45 PM|
It was the beginning of the evening at Oheka Castle in Cold Springs, where her clothing designs were to be publicly showcased for the first time, and Brielle Caro was anything but nervous. "I'm excited," she said, as she sat in an outside lobby before the show started Thursday night. Fast forward to the end of the evening, Brielle was being serenaded by a pop star at the end of a runway, where only moments before her clothes were displayed by a parade of models. The drama might have unsettled some, but Brielle, who turned 11 Aug. 30, maintained an air of professional cool throughout the entire night.
More than 300 people turned out at the event, "Brielle's Fantasy Fashion Show," held to benefit Angela's House, which provides facilities for medically-fragile children. If enthusiasm and a packed ballroom were any measure, the night was a huge success. Brielle, in a blue dress of her own design as she described as a "high low" outfit, was the glue that held the evening together.
"It really is electric here tonight," Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter told the crowd. "And it all started with a then 10-year-old girl," she added. Brielle was 10 when she began designing clothing that wound up in a small St. James boutique owned by Madeline Grudens. Grudens still serves as Brielle's mentor.
Bob Policastro, founder of Angela's House, which hopes to open its third facility in Smithtown in December, recalled how 23 years ago his then young daughter was "clinging to life." He and his wife searched desperately for a facility where she could get proper care and still be close to home. Nothing like Angela's House then existed, he said. He offered thanks to Brielle. "Think of a then 10 year old girl, now 11, having the desire not only to do what she wanted to do, but also the desire to help other children," Policastro said.
Brielle's mom, Karin M. Caro, president of Bohemia-based BluChip Marketing, which organized the event, said that the decision to donate proceeds from the night to Angela's House had come from her daughter. "'Mommy, I don't need any money,’ Caro quoted her daughter as saying. "'But maybe we can help other kids.'"
The models paced off on the runway to the beat of rock music and introductions from CNBC sports business broadcaster Erin Sharoni. Later, Sharoni said she enjoyed the role she played. "This is for a good cause," Sharoni said. The models were escorted into and off the runway by the three Caro boys -- Alex, 13, Brendan, 12, and Connor, 9 -- all in crisp tuxedos and sneakers. Among the models was Gail King, Ms. Senior America. One of the biggest hits among the models was Chewee, 140-pound Leonburger dog who in the past has performed on Broadway. Brielle designed a collar and a suit of armor for Chewee, who stepped down the runway, Brielle leading him all the way.
There were dance performances and singing, including a heart-felt rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by young Katie Zimmer, who battles a lung disorder but who wowed the audience with the strength and lift of her voice.