Carmen Marc Valvo returns to Tulsa for ‘Fashion a Cure’ with Oklahoma Project Woman.
Ten years goes by extraordinarily quickly when you grow close to what you are doing.
It sounded that way when, during a recent phone interview, world-renowned fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo stopped to consider that this year would be his 10th year in Tulsa for Oklahoma Project Woman’s “Fashion a Cure: A Decade of Dedication” benefit luncheon and black-tie dinner.
And the decade has gone by quickly.
“I mean extremely quickly,” Valvo said. “Like ten years. Wow, I can remember the first time I came down there. I didn’t know what to expect; I’d never been to Oklahoma before.”
But before he knew it, Tulsa had welcomed the New York-based women’s evening wear designer into its family. In showcasing his work to raise money for cancer research, Valvo’s met so many people, connected with them, been inspired by them, and this week will see them again at what he says is his last time at the annual Pink Ribbon event.
This year’s event is set for Monday at Southern Hills Country Club.
Oklahoma Project Woman, which hosts the fundraiser, provides breast health education, free mammography, diagnostic procedures and surgical services for Oklahomans with no health insurance and limited financial resources.
This year’s theme “A Decade of Dedication,” recognizes Valvo’s involvement as well as that of many volunteers, chairpeople and others who have worked on the project.
In the 10 years Valvo has been involved with the Pink Ribbon extravaganza, Oklahoma Project Woman executive director Anne Bogie said the program has raised almost $3.5 million for its cause. And with a per patient cost of only $150, “We’ve been able to have a huge impact on the community,” Bogie said.
“It’s a lot of money, and it’s a lot of health care for those souls who have fallen out of the system,” said Valvo, who’s made almost a second career of raising support for cancer research.
The OPW mission hit even closer to home with Valvo when, six months before his first time at the event, the designer was diagnosed with colon cancer.
He underwent surgery, got treatment and things settled down, “so coming to Tulsa for that first time, even though it was for breast cancer,” Valvo said, “I felt like I was raising money for myself at the same time.”
He calls that first meeting a sort of strange serendipitous one.
“And it was kind of like this instant bonding that I had with people in the community.”
And anything that starts a conversation, that lends itself to a better understanding cancer, raises awareness and raises funds for cancer research is a cause for which Valvo is a huge advocate.