Suns players and coaches raised money for local causes at Phoenix Suns Charities’ first annual “Rise In Style” fashion show, held in Downtown Phoenix on January 11. What’s more, they gave 18 kids an experience they’ll never forget.
At “Rise In Style: Fashion for the Future,” children representing Valley nonprofits were each paired to rock the runway — on the sold-out floor of Talking Stick Resort Arena — alongside a Suns player or coach.
For example, Suns star forward Kelly Oubre Jr. partnered with 13-year-old Tysean Bailey, from Free Arts for Abused Kids. Bailey and Oubre sauntered down the stage decked out in matching outfits of almost entirely orange, posing back to back when they made it to the end.
Phoenix center Deandre Ayton, who co-chaired the evening with Oubre, walked next to 8-year-old Gabriel Olvera in honor of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Olvera has needed four open-heart surgeries, the most recent two in October 2019. He wore all black on the bottom and a white T-shirt and red jacket on top, completing the ensemble with AirPods.
Jane Danger Schilling, a 10-year-old who plays baseball and is on the autism spectrum, sported shiny shoes, a pink dress and a leather jacket when she walked for Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center with the seven-foot-tall Frank Kaminsky.
And Olivia Curcuru, who plays on the Ability 360 wheelchair-basketball team, did a dance in her wheelchair as she rolled down the runway in a denim jacket with point guard Elie Okobo.
In total, 18 pairings took the stage for different nonprofits. The Suns haven’t yet reported a final amount raised, but the two live-auction items alone garnered over $20,000.
“More than 140 organizations benefited from Phoenix Suns Charities funding last year, many of them in the room, including all of the ones represented on stage,” Mychael Ramirez, a representative from the Suns, said in an email. “This was a first-year, first-of-its-kind event that we are confident will grow in size, scope and, most importantly, impact.”
What really made “Rise In Style” stand out on an emotional level was that, even though the Suns team was a literally large presence on stage, the clear stars of the show were the kids walking and wheeling waist-high next to them.