'Top Model' contestant to walk runway for children's hospital

Isis King is usually fielding questions about being the first transgender contestant named as a finalist on "America's Next Top Model," the time she spent as a homeless teen or even about her latest hairstyle — she recently switched to a fire-engine red hairdo.

Somehow, the heart-wrenching story about the death of her baby sister, Channel, gets lost in the shuffle.

One-year-old Channel died in 1992 after being born with her organs on the outside of her body. She required a number of medical procedures during her short life, King explained.

"They couldn't save her," she said.

King immediately thought about Channel when she was asked to participate in Catwalk for a Cause, a series of fashion shows sponsored by KIS Agency, an Annapolis-based events management and promotions company.

Each fashion show benefits a different cause. Proceeds from the Nov. 14 event, which will be held at the Tremont Hotel, will help support Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.

"I have a special place in my heart when it comes to children," said King, a Prince George's County native who now lives in New York City as she pursues a career as an actress and fashion designer, and well as other artistic endeavors. "Helping children and giving them the proper medical information is really important."

King will headline more than 60 models during a fashion show that will feature 11 designers and a 55-foot-long runway. Davanna Booker, a 10-year-old modeling phenom who appeared on "America's Next Top Model" two seasons ago, will also be in the show. Booker is also known as "Davanna Diva" or "Baby Naomi (Campbell)" because of her strong runway walk.

"This is a show in Baltimore, but it is not a quote-unquote Baltimore show," said Lana Rae, event organizer. "And it's all for a great cause. You can't ask for anything more."

Rae, the mother of two children, said the Children's Center made sense to her.

"I'm lucky," she said. "My children are healthy and beautiful. I don't know what I would do if something happened to them. … This is a great cause. Johns Hopkins does a great job. I couldn't think of anything better."

The event will pay for items typically not covered by insurance, such as clothing for children in the pediatric emergency department, programs and camps for children with chronic illnesses, meal tickets for families in need who come to the center unexpectedly, and support groups for cancer patients and their families.

Johns Hopkins Children's Center has been open since 1912 and typically treats 120,000 children a year. The hospital runs the gamut of services and attracts patients from around the globe.

"We see it all," said Kristin Porter, assistant director of development for the Hopkins Children's Center. "We see the sickest of the sickest children."

Third-party unrestrictive funds, which provide for items not typically covered by insurance, are dependent on charity events such as Catwalk for a Cause, Porter said.

"It is our bread and butter," she said about the funds. "It is very important to us. We appreciate anyone who is willing to do such an event."

King is excited to help out with the cause and to return to Maryland for a fashion show.

"Of course it is a fashion show, but by me showing my support, hopefully others will show their support," King said.


For more information about attending Catwalk For A Cause Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. at The Historic Tremont Hotel, 225 N. Charles St., go to http://www.catwalk4acause.eventbrite.com.

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