KILLEEN, TX — It’s the miraculous story of a stage four brain cancer survivor, plus nine others, that brought in big names like Miss America to Killeen Saturday.
The 10 survivors turned models strutted down the runway at the second annual Runway of Hope Gala hosted by the Pink Warrior Angels of Texas.
Nine years ago, Ashley Abille noticed she could no longer hear out of her right ear.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
“It was really hard to come to terms with that fact that, 'oh my God, I’m going to die,'” Abille, a stage four brain cancer survivor said. “They initially told me there was nothing they could do for me, that I needed to go home and get ready, to you know, pass.”
It was a tumor. Brain cancer blocking noise from entering her body.
But Ashley and her family were determined to prove those doctors wrong.
“We were like 'What? No, we’re not going to accept this,'” she explained.
At 17 years old, and receiving the most chemotherapy a human body can physically take, Ashley beat the disease with her positivity.
“Having my body broken down that low, and then having to all of a sudden be like 'OK, let's do real life again' was really, really hard to get to that point,” she remembered.
Her and nine other survivors turned models on Saturday, as they showcased their stories on the runway.
Stories proving so important to a local cancer nonprofit, the Pink Warrior Angels of Texas. The founder and executive director Julie Moser knew the show must go on even amidst a pandemic.
“They’re getting to strut and walk through their journey and show everybody,” she said. “While it’s great you can do it in your living room, it’s just something about being on that stage, with those lights.”
That something can have a powerful effect, at least those more qualified than me said.
“One of the special things about walking out on the stage and taking command of a runway is the confidence that it gives you,” said Camille Schrier, better known as Miss America 2020. “Especially for someone who is overcoming a battle with cancer, that can be really empowering and exciting and powerful for those people.”
It was survivors like Abille who stuck to what she knew best to help make the show a success. Her humor.
“Heaven gave me that one thing. They’re like 'ok, we’re going to let you survive cancer, and then I’m going to trip on the runway,'” She said laughing. “I’m like 'great, I’m not going to heaven cause I was given my one.'”
The event, along with a virtual auction, benefited those battling the disease each day by helping fund financial aid grants that will go toward medical, housing and everyday expenses.