Hoover model with Down Syndrome has her own fashion line
Left to right, Ashley DeRamus, Beth Olive and Meredith Rucker pose on the runway stage at the Southern Women's Show, Sept. 30, 2016.Photo by Jennifer Rucker. Ashley and friends displayed their style at the Southern Women's Show in the BJCC North
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Three women with Down Syndrome walked the runway at the 2016 Southern Women's Show, showing off fashions offered by Hoover model and disabilities activist Ashley DeRamus through her personal fashion line. "I like things that are flowing," Ashley told AL. com after the fashion show. Ashley and two other women, Beth Olive, 28, of Pelham and Meredith Rucker, 31, of Indian Springs, took turns striding toward the audience. "They're my friends," said Ashley, who is 33. "We just smile and show what we are. "They watch 'Project Runway,'" said Connie DeRamus, Ashley's mother. The audience loves it. "People are so enthusiastic," Connie said. In spite of their disabilities, the women love to show off their personalities. "Pretty sassy," said Kathy Olive, Beth's mother. "They're strutting their stuff," said Jennifer Rucker, Meredith's mother. Ashley and friends displayed their style at the Southern Women's Show in the BJCC North Exhibition Hall. Ashley said she helps her friends learn how to show off their personalities. "Just show people what they are able to do," she said. Ashley has done more than a dozen fashion shows and appeared in a music video by Grammy Award-winning Christian singer Jason Crabb, for the song, "Love is Stronger. Connie said that when her daughter was four years old, she began dressing Ashley as fashionably as she could, but it was difficult. Many girls' clothes don't fit well on girls with Down Syndrome, she said. "We would buy go clothes and then go straight to alterations and spend more than we spent on the clothes," Connie said. So she and Ashley began searching far and wide for clothes that did fit well. It became a clothing line called Ashley By Design. "We look for things that will fit anybody," Connie said. Proceeds from clothing sales go to support the Ashley DeRamus Foundation. "The main mission is to give hope and to educate," said Gary Kannegiesser, executive director of the Ashley DeRamus Foundation. "You get a new mom with a Down Syndrome baby who doesn't know what to expect, and then she sees Ashley. Ashley has inspired Down Syndrome children and their parents to learn about how to expand their opportunities, he said. That can start with something as basic as clothing and fashion. "I always wanted Ashley to look as good as the other girls," Connie said. In July, Ashley received the Christian Pueschel Memorial Citizen Award at the National Down Syndrome Congress held in Orlando. The award recognizes an individual with Down syndrome whose achievements, service and contributions have enhanced the value and dignity of people with Down syndrome and their families. "As an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a volunteer, an advocate and an athlete, Ashley distinguished herself by any measure," said David C. Tolleson, Executive Director of the National Down Syndrome Congress, when presenting the award. "Don't let anyone tell you what you can't do," Ashley said. "Show them what you can do. ". Learn more by clicking here for the Ashley DeRamus Foundation web site.
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