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Fashion on the Ridge

Restaurants and retailers in Little Rock’s Pleasant Ridge Town Center team up next month to host an evening of food and fashion at the annual Fashion on the Ridge benefiting the Lions World Services for the Blind Foundation (LWSB).

The three-part event kicks off with Taste on the Ridge from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Oct. 13. Retailers will partner with restaurants, allowing shoppers to sample treats from their favorite restaurants while browsing. To further sweeten the deal, retailers will offer shoppers discounts during the evening.

Pleasant Ridge Town Center, anchored by Belk Department Store and The Fresh Market, is home to more than 50 merchants, including upscale women’s apparel shops, children’s boutiques and a diverse array of stores offering everything from jewelry and accessories, home furnishings and health and beauty products and services.

The center is also home to about a dozen restaurants, including Bar Louie, Bonefish, Capi’s, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Istanbul Mediterranean Restaurant, Panera Bread, Cupcakes on the Ridge, Chick-fil-A, Carino’s Italian Grill, Hunan’s and Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt.

Fashion takes center stage beginning at 8 p.m. with a runway fashion show on the second floor of Belk Department Store, where several of Central Arkansas’ broadcast journalists will model fall fashions from Pleasant Ridge Town Center retailers.

A number of local celebrities will serve as models, and KTHV’s Dawn Scott will be mistress of ceremonies. The evening wraps up with the After Party on the first floor of Belk, featuring refreshments and live and silent auction, with items donated by Pleasant Ridge merchants and restaurants.

Fashion on the Ridge, now in its second year, started with shopping center developer Lou Schickel, who served on the Lions World Services for the Blind Foundation and was familiar with the LWSB’s mission to serve the blind and visually impaired.

Proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will provide tuition assistance for blind and visually-impaired people seeking services at Lions World Services for the Blind, an international non-profit based in Little Rock.

At the residential rehabilitation center, adults learn life and job skills. Their ultimate goal is to live independently and function efficiently and competitively in the work place.

“Certainly we’re excited about this event,” said Dan Noble, director of public relations for LWSB. “We’ll raise money to help our clients, but it will also raise awareness of the work we do. We want others to know we’re here and the type of training we do.”

Taking the reins as this year’s honorary volunteer chairperson is Penny Burkhalter, who got involved with the event through a friend who worked at LWSB.

“When she approached me about it, I felt it was a good cause,” Burkhalter said. “Many people aren’t aware there’s a residential campus for the blind [in Little Rock]. There’s a great need for awareness.”

LWSB is the world’s largest and most comprehensive center of its kind. Since its founding in 1939, it has served nearly 10,000 people from every state in the country and from 58 countries.

About 60 adults currently live on the LWSB’s campus where they receive guidance through the often traumatic, emotional adjustment to blindness and are taught techniques for daily living, communications and mobility, so they can care for themselves and travel independently. The center serves about 200 people a year.

“Many of our clients were once independent and had jobs at one point, but for some reason, they lost their sight,” Noble said.

The center provides them counseling services, personal adjustment training and vocational training in 10 career areas, such as computer programming and call center operations. Through a partnership with the IRS, many clients get jobs with the federal government.

“It’s very important to us to place them in a job,” Noble said. “From our research, we’re the only place in the United States that provides this type of vocational training to adults who are blind or visually impaired.”

For more information about LWSB — including volunteer opportunities — log onto lwsb.org or call (501) 664-7100.

Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011

Pleasant Ridge Town Center (11525 Cantrell Road)


• Taste on the Ridge: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. •

• Fashion on the Ridge: 8 to 9 p.m., Belk Department Store •

• After Party: 9 to 10:30 p.m., Belk Department Store • 

Tickets cost $100 per person and can be purchased at Lions World Services for the Blind, 2811 Fair Park Blvd., Little Rock; from Pleasant Ridge Town Center retailers; online at fashionontheridge.org; or by calling (501) 664-7100.

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