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Estelle Lemieux, 4, recently modeled adaptive clothing at New York Fashion Week.

Estelle Lemieux, 4, recently modeled adaptive clothing at New York Fashion Week.
A local 4-year-old was recently in the spotlight at New York Fashion Week, where she rolled down the runway to model adaptive fashions.
Estelle Lemieux appeared as one of 60 models on the “The Runway of Dreams,” which is a one-of-a-kind adaptive fashion show, aptly titled “A Fashion Revolution,” presented by Kohl’s. The seventh annual show was held on Sept. 12 at The Glasshouse in New York City.
“It was such an eye-opening experience for her. She has never been exposed to so many people with all different types of disabilities/differences. I definitely think it has helped her to understand and accept her disability/wheelchair,” said Amy Lemieux, Estelle’s mom.
Estelle, the daughter of Amy and Douglas Lemieux, has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, type 2. She started showing symptoms at around 6 months of age but wasn’t diagnosed until she was 16 months old, as it took a long time to get the correct diagnosis.
Lemieux said her daughter has been lucky to receive all three FDA-approved treatments for the neuromuscular condition, including the most expensive drug in the world called Zolgensma at a cost of $2.1 million for a course of treatment. She also takes daily medication and gets therapies to help build muscle and fight against a disease that is historically progressive without treatment.
“This short getaway to New York was a great distraction for her to just be a kid for a few days and take a break from her therapies. We got to explore the city and walk to Time Square. Estelle loved the hustle and bustle and brilliant lights. We went to the M&M store, American Girl doll store, Disney, and also to Harry Potter. She had a blast,” her mother said.
The Runway of Dreams Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission of inclusion, acceptance, and opportunity in the fashion industry for people with disabilities. The evening showcased adaptive clothing and footwear from leading brands such as Kohl’s, Target, Zappos.com, JCPenney, Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive, No Limbits, and Stride Rite. Steve Madden debuted its adaptive footwear line, alongside brands French Toast Adaptive, Stemwear, and Magnetic Me, which showcased products from their new adaptive collections.
Estelle got to roll down the runway three times and started tearing up when she realized the show was over. Since getting back from their trip, Lemieux said her daughter has brought up different models she met and says, “That’s just the way their body was made, and it’s okay to be different.”
Lemieux loves that Estelle is curious about other people.
“She is seeing that God makes us all unique. This is what is so important and needed about what Runway of Dreams is doing. Society needs more exposure. Disabled people deserve to be seen in all spaces including fashion and advertising. It’s time we normalize disabilities,” she said.
Lemieux tells her daughter the world would be a boring place if evyerone looked the same and she said Estelle is starting to see that, too.
“She even says it herself now. She can do anything she wants to in life,” Lemieux said. “We just have to do some things a little differently and that’s okay. She has such a positive and bright spirit for such a young girl. We are so proud of her.”
Estelle started her modeling career about a year ago. She is signed with Model Club in Boston and GAMUT Management in New York, which is a talent management company working with people with disabilities.
The fashion show was not Estelle’s first modeling experience — she’s done shoots for Hasbro toys and was featured in a children’s book called “Gary’s Gigantic Dream” by Nicole Julia.
Follow her on her Facebook page “Estelles SMAmazing journey” or on Instagram @RaisingaRaregirl.

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