VALPARAISO | There were no cats on the catwalk, but there were some in the crowd.
Rescued animals were the reason Valparaiso University law students took a break from studying Friday and walked the runway for Catwalk for the Cause at Harre Union.
Chris Hammer, of the Business Law Society, said student organizers of the third annual charity fashion show used this year’s event to “give back” to the community. While previous year’s shows benefited breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, students chose Valparaiso-based animal rescue Lakeshore PAWS as their fundraising focus in 2013.
“Sometimes the smaller charities don’t get the attention they deserve,” said Hammer, of Mishawaka. “Valparaiso University is a part of the community and this is our way of saying, ‘Thank you, we appreciate all you’ve done for us.’”
Fifteen students modeled casual, business casual and formal fashions from Brooks Brothers, BCBGMaxAzria, Buckle and Arden Salon. The event included a preshow reception and a silent auction featuring donated prizes from area businesses.
“We’re taking a break from classes and showing we have a sense of humor,” Hammer said. “We know how to let loose and have fun.”
Hammer said in years past, the group, which partnered with the Sports and Entertainment Law Society, raised $2,000 for charity.
Lakeshore PAWS founder Jeanne Sommer said the money goes toward the animals’ medical expenses and housing needs. The rescue has saved more than 500 animals since it began in April 2011, she said.
Sommer said the event it was nice to sit back and let someone else do the work for a change.
“When we have an event, we’re so used to doing and doing,” Sommer said. “They do everything. This is the least amount of work I’ve ever done for an event.”
Students also enjoyed the break from studying. First-year law student Isaac Carr spiced up his walk down the runway with a break dance move, to the audience’s delight.
“This brings everybody together,” Carr said. “I didn’t know any of these people before, but now were hanging out together.”
Ruby, a fawn and white pit bull mix, watched the show with her foster mom, Maura Myers, who began volunteering for Lakeshore PAWS in December.
Myers said she cherishes her role helping dogs find their forever homes.
“When they leave you, it’s hard ... you cry,” Myers said. “But you see they go to good homes and it makes you feel good.”