At 15-years-old, Grace Novacheck is an accomplished pianist, a pretty good cook, and a seasoned vlogger with her own YouTube page.
“I have what is called Escobar syndrome. It’s like a smaller branch of the bigger picture, which is called arthrogryposis, which makes muscles and joints tighter. It is a genetic disease, and there is no known cure right now. But I have had 33 surgeries to help me just be able to live my life to the fullest,” Novacheck said.
That’s something she doesn’t take for granted.
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“Sure, I’m a little bit different, but I get to do some really cool things,” she said.
It’s an opportunity that came following a meeting with Gamut Talent Management, which represents people with disabilities.
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Its founder, Mindy Scheier, is also the creator of the Runway of Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit that works toward a future of inclusion, acceptance, and opportunity in the fashion industry for people with disabilities.
After meeting Grace, she extended an offer to come model.
After some practice on the catwalk, she was dressed by Zappos Adaptive and had her hair and makeup professionally done.
Though she said there were a few nerves, it was an experience she's likely to never forget.
“I got to spread awareness to people that just because we have a disability or we look a little different, walk a little different, talk a little different, doesn’t mean that we can’t dress super cool,” Novacheck said.
The mission is to make clothing accessible to all needs as common as petites or plus size. For some, that means pants that fasten with Velcro or magnets rather than a zipper. For Grace, it means shoes that are wider to accommodate orthopedic leg braces.
Grace said she isn’t sure yet fashion will be a career path she wants to pursue, but last week’s show opened her eyes to let her know it’s a possibility.
For her parents, watching Grace walk the catwalk is a reminder that by taking the opportunity, she’s serving as a role model for others.
“Other little kids who might look different or move different can see her and know, I can do other things too,” said Grace’s mom Sunny Novacheck.