Local models band together for American Heart Association
By CHRIS HARRIS, CJ Staff Writer Commonwealth Journal
To be a model, you’ve got to have it all. The eyes. The hair. The figure.
And most importantly — for all of us, in fact — a healthy heart.
That’s why local beauties have volunteered their time and energy toward the Models on Lake Cumberland project.
Hosted by Angela Vaught Photography, partnered with Lake 102.3 Radio, the first-of-it’s-kind endeavor is designed to raise money for a cause near and dear to so many in Pulaski County, the American Heart Association.
As many as 54 different area individuals participated. Interested was overwhelming with a wealth of models — mostly women, but one man as well — hoping to be represented on the “Models on Lake Cumberland” 2014 calendar.
The calendar features 13 models, each representing a different month, as well as a cover girl. A panel of judges was enlisted to pick the top dozen models to be used on the pages of the calendar, while honor of choosing the cover image was left to fans of Angela Vaught’s photography on Facebook. Each model was sponsored by a local business.
“Participation has been huge,” said Vaught. “I can’t say enough about how wonderful all the models are. It takes a lot of courage.”
Amber Brake — sponsored by Trya De’Sha Photography — won the People’s Choice Award status.
A wrap-up event will be held this weekend at Lee’s Ford Marina. On Saturday, June 29, the celebration of Models on Lake Cumberland and the good cause behind it will take place on the dock, featuring live music — including Stephanie Harris opening for County Line from Louisville — contests, games, the chance for prizes, Karaoke, food, and various other events throughout the day. Festivities start at noon and go until 8 p.m.
As much fun as it sounds, there’s a serious motivation behind it.
“The whole thing is to raise funds for the American Heart Association,” said Vaught. “We’ll be doing other fund raising (at Saturday’s event). It’s important to me personally and my children.”
Vaught herself has been deeply touched by heart disease. Three years ago, her husband Paul Davis passed away from the condition at age 47 — just as his own father had done at a relatively young age.
“I lost my husband to (heart disease); my children lost their father,” said Vaught. “Some day, my children could be affected by it. It’s affected our lives in a huge, huge way.
“We couldn’t save my husband,” she added, “but maybe by helping the American Heart Association, we can help save somebody else’s family member.”
As such, Saturday’s event will also feature hands-only CPR demonstrations, teaching people how to help save someone’s life in a cardiac event scenario, and free blood pressure checks. Additionally, a donation of $2 will allow you to release a very special balloon in memory of someone you may have lost to heart-related causes.
The cause means a lot to many of the models as well.
"I am doing it because I found out not so long ago that I have heart disease,” said Watsekah Huff, one of the participating models. “The symptoms I was having would have in no way led me to think there was something wrong with my heart.
“I am the ultimate single momma,” she added. “My baby’s daddy died so they totally depend on me. If I don't take care of myself, no one will. If I go down.. what happens to them?? Everyone can recognize when they are getting sick, cause they know what to look for. Nobody really knows what to look for when their heart is getting sick. Awareness and knowledge is key.”
All the calendars will be donated to the American Heart Association and will be sold for $19.99 to raise money for the organization, which funds research, provides information, advocates for public policies, and works tirelessly to help prevent death from heart disease in this country.
“We’ve been working on (the project) since January,” said Vaught. “It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. It’ a lot of hard work — my staff and I have put a lot of time and effort into it, (from) advertising to finding locations to shoot with the models. A lot of things.”
Calendars can be pre-ordered ordered at the event Saturday, or ordered through the American Heart Association (www.heart.org), said Vaught.
When Vaught came up with the idea for a calendar, she knew she wanted it to help fight heart disease. She just didn’t know “Models on Lake Cumberland” would become as popular as it has proven to be.
“When we started out, we didn’t have any idea how big it would become,” she said. “The response has been phenomenal.”