Christina Ricciuto, left, and her roommate Lorina pose for a photo during last year’s ReStyle the Runway event. The event raises funds for Johnson County Developmental Services. Submitted photo

Danedri Thompson
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Christina Ricciuto is going to practice her walk this weekend. The Gardner woman is readying her stroll for a trip down the fashion runway in late September as part of the Friends of Johnson County Developmental Support’s Restyle the Runway.
“They gave me the dress and everything,” Ricciuto said. “I like what I’m going wear. I’m going to practice some Saturday.”
Based loosely on the hit television show, “Project Runway,” the event pairs up-and-coming Kansas City designers with professional models, and people like Ricciuto — those who use Johnson County Developmental Support (JCDS) services to create and showcase fashion collections.
The designers are challenged to create using clothes from Savers, a second hand store. The fashions are revealed and a winning designer will be selected by professional judges during a runway show and gala that benefit JCDS. The show, in its third year, will start at 6 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the Overland Park Convention Center. Attendees will watch as more than 80 fashions in a number of collections take the stage.
The event will also feature local television personalities John Holt and Karli Ritter as well as live music from the Late Night Callers.
Ricciuto is modeling in this year’s runway show for the second time and looking forward to it.
After last year’s event, she volunteered to walk the runway again. “I wasn’t nervous,” Ricciuto said. “I did really good. I walked with a model and then I walked by myself, too. I like it because it’s fun.”
During this year’s event, Ricciuto will model a pink dress.
“It’s really pretty. It’s  long, and I’m going to wear fancy black shoes,” she said.
Lurena Mead, communications director of JCDS, said it’s a great way to raise funds for a very important program.
“The funds we receive go to benefit individuals with developmental disabilities,” Mead explained.
For example, a person has a seizure and falls and breaks their glasses.
“A lot of the people we support don’t have funds to buy new glasses, so our Friends fundraisers will purchase new ones,” Mead said.
JCDS is an agency of the Johnson County government, which is funded in part, by Community Block Development Grants. Fundraisers also support the group’s mission — to provide a safety net of services to benefit individuals with developmental disabilities.
“One of the great things we do is provide accessible and affordable housing,” Mead said.
In that mission, the Friends of JCDS, the organization’s fundraising arm, is instrumental.
To date, the Friends have purchased 11 homes. The homes are gutted and then made accessible for people with developmental disabilities.
Two of the homes purchased by the organization are in Gardner, including the home where Ricciuto and her roommate, Lorina, live.
Mead said it’s a unique and award-winning program.
“It really serves a purpose,” Mead explained. “Who doesn’t want to live in a house and have friends and neighbors and go next door and pet the dog and just belong? We’re all about making life as independent and fulfilling as possible.”
The Friends of JCDS Restyle the Runway event starts at 6 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the Overland Park Convention Center. For tickets or for more information, visit www.friendsofjcds.com.