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Fashion with a Passion

The Ohio Valley Voices LOVVE Amplified Fashion Show Raises Funds to Help Deaf Children Learn to Speak

Keeping its children smiling, listening and speaking and its doors open is the ultimate goal of the Ohio Valley Voices (OVV) fourth annual Fashion with a Passion fundraising event.

Held at Manor House in Mason on Thursday, Sept. 19, from 4-9 p.m., this fundraiser offers the community a fun and educational opportunity to give back to a unique school helping deaf children realize their full potential. 

Anne Neuville, development and event coordinator, describes the importance of OVV’s mission.

“Opportunities for the deaf have changed tremendously. It used to be only sign language was available, but only 1% of the world signs. Now with cochlear implants and schools like OVV, children can hear sounds and learn to listen and speak.”

Teaching deaf children to speak requires not only hard work but is also very expensive partly due to the intense one-to-three teacher-student ratio. The school’s philosophy, determined by Founder and Executive Director Maria Sentelik, is that money should never be a hindrance to any child’s potential being achieved.

“No one is ever turned away for lack of money. We will always find the money, somehow, some way,” Maria says.

Tickets to the event are $65 and include the fashion show, "dinner by the bite" prepared by Manor House, a silent mobile auction, a live auction and a 15-vendor shopping boutique offering a variety of clothing and accessories for purchase. VIP tickets for $100 include VIP check-in, premier seating for the fashion show, a complimentary drink and a swag bag.

The live auction for attendees offers a week-long stay in a four-bedroom lakefront property at Norris Lake, a dinner party for 20 provided by Tano Bistro and a child’s Mercedes Benz power wheels with pizza at The Works for 25 and an ice cream truck party. A silent auction featuring exceptional gift baskets can be accessed online and bid on without attending the event.

An exciting new addition to this year’s New York-style runway fashion show will be OVV students and alumni modeling children’s clothing specifically designed for them by the University of Cincinnati DAAP (Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning) students. Twenty-one children will participate along with adults modeling clothing provided by Macy’s and DAAP.

Sponsorships are critical to the fashion show’s success. The major presenting sponsor, Esther Price Candies, has a close connection to the event and the school. The company owner’s great-grandson, 4-year-old Jack, attends OVV and will be modeling with his brothers and parents, Amanda and Gary.

“OVV has taught Jack to be a determined little fighter,” Amanda says. “We owe them everything. They are such a deserving organization. These people are changing children’s lives,” she adds. “It is not just a moment in their life; it is their entire life being shaped.”

To raise funds and tell Jack’s story, Esther Price even created Jack’s Candy, graham crackers covered with milk and dark chocolate. 

Other major sponsors include Integra Group, Mitsubishi Electric, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, MED-EL and Molly Bradfish.

The financial goal of the nonprofit’s fundraiser is to provide much-needed tuition assistance. OVV offers $150,000 in scholarships each year. Additional fundraisers include an elegant gala in February, Amazon Smiles, Kroger Rewards, The Flying Pig Marathon and an annual fund drive.

“This is really much more than a fundraiser. It is also a 'friendraiser.' We want to expand our circle of people who know about Ohio Valley Voices,” Anne says. “Our hope is that you will attend, bring friends and support these children and their families.”

Maria, who has a masters degree in audiology, opened the school 19 years ago, bringing the country’s top early intervention and educational program to our region. The state-of-the-art school, located in Loveland, serves 55 children a year from birth to 8 years old. Each child receives individualized therapy to meet their specific needs, learning critical communication and interpersonal life skills.

More than 160 children have graduated from OVV, going on to a variety of elementary and secondary schools and colleges.

“We work hard to make it fun, and the children really have to work hard,” Maria says.

Besides learning to speak, she says there are unplanned by-products of the students’ experience: They gain an amazing work ethic, develop strong relationships and learn to support others.

Only about 2,000 of the 20,000 children who are deaf or hard of hearing who could be served by a program like OVV are actually being served. Expanding the OVV program to help more children is a continual mission for Maria.

“We are here because we have an unshakeable belief that children with hearing loss are capable of great things,” Maria says.

For more information about Ohio Valley Voices, the Fashion Show, tickets and silent auction, please contact the school.  

Ohio Valley Voices

6642 Branch Hill Guinea Pike, Loveland