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Photography by Ann Chatillon and Rick Chatillon

This past Monday, more than 400 guests arrived at the Marriott Newport Beach to help celebrate the Orange County Chapter of Childhelp’s 27th Annual “For the Love of a Child” Fashion Show and Luncheon.

OC Childhelp Chapter President Kristen James introduced co-chairs Pam Pharris and Christine Bren, all who worked tirelessly together to produce the spectacular event which included a cocktail reception featuring a dazzling array of opportunity prizes and a special appearance by Dancing with the Stars’ Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who kept busy taking pictures with the ladies.

The reception was followed by a dynamic fashion show sponsored by South Coast Plaza and introduced by Childhelp National Board Member and Newport Beach resident Patti Edwards. Models took to the beautifully lit catwalk in the latest Spring designs including fashions by Bally, Brooks Brothers, Faconnable, DKNY, Saks Fifth Avenue, St. John, Versace, Ted Baker, and Diane von Furstengerg. Everyone then moved to the main ballroom for lunch and presentation.

During lunch, the annual Children’s Friend Award was presented to Erin Runnion, for her work in making the world a safer place for children. Runnion’s  daughter Samantha – a beautiful, bright, joyful 6 year old little girl – was the youngest murder victim of the “summer of abductions” in July, 2002. In memory of her daughter, Runnion founded The Joyful Child Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to ensuring that Samantha’s tragic death continues to be a catalyst to engage adults in their collected responsibility to protect our nation’s children.

“10 years ago, when Samantha was abducted, I was introduced to Childhelp,” said Runnion. “I don’t endorse any other child abuse or neglect organizations other than Childhelp which we list on our website as a resource. It shouldn’t have to take a event like what happened to Samantha to show support for eradicating child abuse.”

By the end of the luncheon, it was estimated that the gross income for the event would surpass $275.000. Net proceeds, which are still being calculated, will benefit the hundreds of abused and neglected children cared for by Childhelp.

CEO and Co-Founder Sara O’Meara and President and Co-Founder Yvonne Fedderson started Childhelp in 1959, establishing it as a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse, neglect, and at-risk children. Childhelp’s approach focuses on advocacy, prevention, treatment and community outreach. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD®, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and receives calls from throughout the United States, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.