When Shaquem Griffin was taking down ball carriers in NFL stadiums, it made no difference that he was missing a hand. All that mattered were his speed, strength, determination, and physicality. The Runway of Dreams Foundation has been just as hard-hitting in the fashion arena, upending conventional ideas about beauty and sacking old-fashioned perceptions about people with disabilities.
That makes Griffin the perfect emcee for RoD’s annual New York Fashion Week show, which goes down in Brooklyn on September 13, two weeks from tonight. This is the Super Bowl of inclusive fashion—the biggest stage, the most dazzling spectacle, and the most luminous roster of models and designers. It’s also an essential marketing platform, a day major brands circle on their calendar and spend weeks and months planning for.
You’ll find Griffin on the cover of our September print edition (which comes out in two days), and some of the show’s other amputee stars are featured inside the publication. But there’ll be a lot more talent on the runway than we could fit between the covers of our hard-copy magazine. Here are some of the other models who’ll be gracing the stage, repping brands such as Zappos, Target, Victoria’s Secret, Hilfiger, adidas, and JC Penney. Here’s how to get tickets to the show; you can also watch it on Runway of Dreams’ YouTube channel.
If the name and the face look familiar, it might be because Sesser is on the cover of Amplitude‘s July/August issue. She’s also featured inside as one of the amputees who’s getting work as a stunt performer in Hollywood. And if you recognize Sesser as one of the top skateboard competitors on the Dew Tour, our hat’s off to you.
In her own words: “She transforms her own dark into her own light. She sees her own private shadows and loves them. She meets her emotional depths and owns it. She faces her private fears of separation and rises above the illusions.”
This model might look familiar to you, too—we wrote about Ke’Yair earlier this year after his unfortunate (and infuriating) encounter with butt-headed ride operators at Universal Studios’ Jurrasic World VelociCoaster. We’ve been following Prince Key’s courageous battle against cancer almost since it began (way back in 2019), through more ups and downs than any young patient should have to endure. He was a kid when it started; he’s a young man now. And he’s still in the thick of the fight, as determined as ever and smiling every step of the way. There aren’t many people (amputee or otherwise) we admire more.
On Instagram: @prince_keyair
Like Prince Key, Ms. Bader is a battler who can take whatever the health demons throw at her and remain standing. You’ve read about her in Amplitude before, as one of the first patients to undergo Hugh Herr’s pioneering AMI surgery. Bader has fended off CRPS, two amputations, and more complications than we can keep track of, and she keeps moving forward. She’s no stranger to the fashion runway; she’s been modeling professionally for more than a decade. Bader also has her own line of adaptable clothing, Fash-n-able, which just introduced a few weeks ago (check out her designs here).
In her own words: “My goal is to not only design and create new trends for both disabled and able bodied individuals, but to give fashionable clothing options for people requiring their own unique needs.”
Kia Marie Brazil
Brazil lost both legs and most of her fingers in 2019 to a severe bout of sepsis—and when we say “severe,” we mean her heart stopped three times. She came out of the ordeal with a fresh perspective rooted in faith, which she describes in her memoir Surviving Sepsis. Brazil began modeling under the moniker “The Metal Barbie,” and she’s in demand as a keynote speaker. This will be her first appearance on the Runway of Dreams, but we’re betting it won’t be the last. Learn more about Brazil’s story on YouTube.
In her own words: “Being a disabled model will share a light over so many different people. I want kids that see my pictures to think: If she can do it, I can do it too.”
On Instagram: @therealkiamariebrazil
This athletic Canadian encountered high hurdles in the aftermath of his amputation, including chronic pain, loss of mobility, and low spirits. Kande turned things around by committing himself to helping others as a youth mentor, coach, and amputee advocate. When he’s not teaching young soccer and football players, you’ll find him modeling, pumping iron, and spreading positivity in every way he can think of. Kande also has his own line of amputee-friendly apparel in the works, branded Champstrong, along with a nonprofit of the same name.
In his own words: “I strive to be the source of support I wish I had myself. Looking back at it now, I’m at peace with my journey, because of the position I’m in to help others now. My story is proof that you can always recreate yourself.”