St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center ready to strut down the runway

Courtesy photo

St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center is holding its 44th Annual Haute with Heart Fashion Show Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Taking place at Hilton’s San Diego Bayfront Downtown, this year’s “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” fashion show and fundraiser will feature SMSC students and professional models dressed in the latest fashions. Along with fashion, SMSC will have its iconic boutique shop, live and silent auctions, and opportunity drawings.

SMSC educates and empowers individuals with developmental disabilities to realize their full potential with classes, employment, skill training, and programs. It employs more than 110 staff members and has help with more than 150 volunteers.

SMSC CEO Debra Emerson said they are excited to be holding the event in person again.

“We are honoring Laurie and Connie McGrath who are El Cajon residents and our presenting sponsors is one of our parents is Colette Gerard,” she said. “It is our biggest fundraiser. Mainly for funding, we shortfall around $2 million a year, so we must fundraise for different events.”

Emerson said COVID has affected its funding with the inability to do fundraising events, staffing components, and its students are still not back fulltime yet.

Emerson said this year it has a new master of ceremonies, Chuck Dukas, one of San Diego’s live event emcees and auctioneer. Kristi Brooks is the theatrical fashion show producer. With more than 15 years in the fashion industry in San Diego and Los Angeles, Brooks is a wardrobe stylist, costumer for television and movies, and a fashion show producer.

Emerson said for those that cannot attend Haute with Heart, they are always welcome to donate directly or volunteer.

“Just give us a call,” she said. “We would love to show them our programs and our campus. It is a fun event. If you cannot see us at this event, come see us at one of our other events. Our next event is our golf tournament in November at Sycuan Casino and Resort.”

For more information about SMSC Haute with Heart Fashion Show, visit