By Donna Beth Weilenman
Crowds attending the Summer Splash Fashion Show at the Rellik Tavern Tuesday night raised about $7,000 to help defray mounting medical bills of a Benicia teenager who is recuperating from critical injuries she received July 1 when she was struck by a van while crossing Military West.
“The final count isn’t in yet,” said Delando Pegan, who with Tom Hamilton own the Rellik, 726 First St. “But from what I can tell, we’re very close to $7,000.”
He said the giving hasn’t stopped. Wednesday morning, representatives of Arts Benicia dropped by another $320.
The money will help defray the cost of medical expenses incurred by Lacey Wilson, 15, who has remained in critical but stable condition since the accident. She recently was moved from intensive care at John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek, to Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, where her family told the show’s organizers she soon will enter rehabilitation.
While Laurie Key and her store, Piccolo, 636 First St., and the Rellik have been teaming up the third Tuesday of every month for the fashion show, this was the first time the show focused so specifically on raising money for someone from Benicia.
And it is the best attended fashion show so far of the series, Pegan said. “Throughout the event, 200 people came in and out,” he said. “It was elbow to elbow.”
Not everyone who wanted to attend could get in, mostly because they were younger than 21, the minimum age to enter the Rellik.
But that didn’t deter a group of Lacey’s friends, who gathered outside the door to sell baked goods and event tickets to raise more money for their injured friend. They worked hard, Pegan said, raising several hundred dollars. “I should hire them!” he said.
Key said the event “gave them a place to focus. They couldn’t see her in the hospital.”
Those attending the event browsed through displays of donated fine art, fine wine and other upscale items in the silent auction. They also bought tickets for chances to win merchandise and services certificates. Some folks traded hugs for donations. “It was so insanely busy,” Pegan said.
But the crowds respectfully “parted the seas,” Pegan said, making way when the fashion show began. Eight models displayed 24 outfits to music by Alex Jordan, Key said.
“Lisa Baer did the jewelry.” Piccolo provided most of the outfits; others, such as Bombshell and Ink, participated as well.
While the event might spread the word about some of Benicia’s specialized stores and businesses, Key said Tuesday night, “Every heart was with Lacey.”
The amount of donations surprised both Pegan and Key. As donors kept bringing in expensive items, Pegan began to worry whether they all would sell, because of the economic downturn. He needn’t have worried.
Everything brought in money, and everything sold. “A lot of items brought in way more than their retail value. People bid it up.”
Lacey’s family was amazed at the response. Pegan reserved a table for the Wilsons, and about a half-dozen attended. “They were blown away and overwhelmed,” Key said. The family also has an account in Lacey’s name at Wells Fargo, and contributions to the Lacey Wilson account may be made at any Wells Fargo bank branch.
Key is often asked for contributions herself. When she asked for contributions for Tuesday’s event, “people didn’t even hesitate,” Key said. “It shows what a great community Benicia is.”
For her, the cause was personal. Her 14-year-old daughter and Lacey have the same friends. It seemed personal to others, too. “It was a picture of a girl who was in a tragic situation. It touched people’s hearts.”