Children's Center fundraiser looking for a leg up from public

People can vote on favorite decorated mannequin leg

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 

If you go

What: Glamorous Gams, a fundraiser for the Children's Center.

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 29.

Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.

Cost: $75 reserved seating or $40 at the door.

Before the event: View and vote for your favorite leg by Sept. 29; download a score sheet at The Children's Center.

photoKatie Fazal

(/The Columbian)

Buy this photo

Remember this Paul Simon song?

"People say I'm crazy, I got diamonds on the soles of my shoes.

Well, that's one way to lose these walking blues."

Katie Fazal, a therapist at the nonprofit mental health clinic Children's Center, has been humming that spirited song ever since her mom dragged her years ago to a Paul Simon concert.

Fazal was a teenager then, and she wasn't looking forward to an old-fogey rock fest. But she fell in love with Simon's big multicultural band, she said — and these days, she added, she has renewed appreciation for the uplifting message of "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes."

The girl in the song may be a prostitute, and she's clearly living in "dire circumstances," Fazal said -- but she sparkles in a way nobody would suspect.

That's in keeping with the terrible tales and traumatized lives Fazal, 29, deals with during her working days at Children's Center. "The bad stuff is never the end of the story," she said. "It's never all bad. There are always bright spots. There's always hope."

When she was asked to decorate a mannequin leg for a fundraising auction for her employer, Fazal, who's also an artist in her off-the-clock hours, remembered the song and did the job with (fake) diamonds.

"That's one way I manage the stress and heartache of this job," she said. "I do art -- and I dance."

According to its website, Children's Center clients deal with issues such as domestic violence, sexual abuse and chronic mental conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It offers extensive outreach to students and parents through the Evergreen and Vancouver school districts.

Fazal has worked at Children's Center for three years, and she said the caseload is always heavy. During the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Children's Center served nearly 1,500 children and families. Nearly all of them — 95 percent — live in poverty. Twenty-two percent of the children served were victims of crime like violence and abuse.

Lots of legs

To get a leg up on all that need, the nonprofit Children's Center has "legged" it all over Clark County. You can admire the way 11 local artists, including Fazal, have dolled up mannequin legs — and you can vote on your choice for the loveliest leg of all.

The legs are on display at different sites, from Beaches Restaurant on the Columbia River waterfront to Phoenix Casino in La Center. The winner of the public vote will receive a People's Choice Award at the Children's Center's "Glamorous Gams" fundraiser, set for Sept. 29 at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. All the legs — er, gams — will be on sale during a silent auction there.

The Glamorous Gams event also will feature 13 prominent citizens who'll assume alter egos and strut their leggy stuff on the catwalk.

Just how prominent, and just how alter?

• Local watersheds hero Gary Bock will portray sea god Poseidon.

• Java House owner Cora Lee Chandler will be Tomb Raider.

• Vancouver City Councilman Bart Hansen is Braveheart.

• Vancouver Fire Chief Lee Hazelton is Elvis.

• Kelly Parker, president of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, is Rita Hayworth.

• Clark County senior deputy prosecuting attorney Tonya Rulli will be Wonder Woman.

That's just a sample of the leggy VIPs on tap.

Scavenger hunt

Plus, Children's Center officials have announced that one Mardi Gras-themed gam has escaped from the bunch and legged it. Your help is needed to track it down. Scavenger hunt clues are being posted on the Children's Center website on odd-numbered business days from Aug. 29 until the lost leg is located. If you make the discovery, call development director Kim Hash at 360-699-2244 before the competition does. The prize is a fitness tool called the CoreBody Reformer, valued at $280.

That website is where you can go if you're interested in downloading a score sheet, scrutinizing all those lovely legs and making your preference known. Voting closes on Sept. 29.

The Glamorous Gams fundraiser is set for 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) Sept. 29 at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St. Prices are $75 for reserved seating or $40 for general admission. There will be a champagne greeting, appetizers and a cash bar.