Vendors participate in Rally for Rhyan benefit

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COLUMBIA — Many are familiar with the Rally for Rhyan Mizzou Men’s Basketball game fundraiser, and this year it was back, but with a new and special twist.

In conjunction with the fundraising basketball game, this year was the first ever Rally for Rhyan Fashion Show Benefiting Pediatric Cancer Research.

Rhyan is the daughter of Special Assistant for the Mizzou Men’s Basketball Team Brad Loos.

He said she is the typical 6-year-old little girl who loves pink and princesses. She also wants to be a cheerleader and gymnast.

The fashion show included a brunch, and kids walked the catwalk wearing clothes from local vendors.

"My favorite part was going up with Terrence Phillips and standing there," 6-year-old Gibson Moore said. "My second favorite part, I liked being up there because I felt like I was at a real game."

Rhyan's battle with cancer inspired efforts to raise thousands of dollars to help other kids like her.

“Doctors knew how important it was for Rhyan to get home, and it was really important specifically because of the fashion show,” Loos said. “She loves basketball, she loves going to the games, but the fashion show is her thing and she was really excited about getting to dress up and walking up and down the catwalk with her friends.”

Members from the men’s basketball team were also there in support.

Mizzou Men’s Basketball player Kevin Puryear said he loves being in Rhyan’s presence.

“She’s very playful, loves to play with her brother and sister so to see her smile and just having a good time, that’s what I’m most looking forward to,” Puryear said.

Loos said last year's Rally for Rhyan game raised more than $50,000 with over 10,000 people in attendance, so they decided to do it again this year.

The head coach's wife helped to coordinate the fashion event. 

"To know that even if it's a small part, that you're helping fund research, it's an incredible feeling, satisfying feeling and it's personal," Melissa Anderson said. 

According to Loos, doctors diagnosed Rhyan with stage four neuroblastoma a year and a half ago.

She was close to being in remission until they found out she had relapsed on Thanksgiving Day. Since then, Rhyan had a successful surgery to remove a tumor in her brain, and she went back through chemotherapy and radiation again.

Her dad said she’s doing “really good.”

The family decided to start raising money to help pediatric cancer research.

“Unfortunately, pediatric cancer is extremely underfunded,” Loos said. “Our government has a $5 billion cancer research budget, only 4 percent of that goes towards pediatric cancer research. And so in order for these clinical studies to get out to the bedsides and to help these kids, somebody’s gotta front the money and it’s left to individual donors or private donors like ourselves, and so that’s where this money comes into play.”

Tickets for the fashion show were $50, and the proceeds will go to a clinical study that benefits pediatric cancer. Additional donations were also welcome.

Local vendors also packed the rally to donate all proceeds to the cause.

Matila Jane apparel consultant, Katie Williams, said this is her second time being a part of the benefit.

"When I heard of this fundraiser happening today, I had to be a part of it," Willaims said. "I actually reached out and said 'Is there any way I could please be a part of this?'."

Last spring, Williams' apparel company partnered with Rhyan for another benefit.

"I would really love to give back to pediatric cancer and just research because it's a really needy cause, we need more information, we need more research we need more funding," Willaims said.

Consultants sold items such as books, jewelry and clothing for the cause. Posh consultant, Johanna Lee sold pampering items from her company.

"We're happy to be here to not only show off what we do, but also to be supportive of the efforts to raise funds for children like Rhyan," Lee said. 

Lee said she hopes to be a part of the event next year. 

"We hope that we'll be able to be a part of a bigger crowd in the future," Lee said. 

The event took place at the Holiday Inn Executive Center on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 9:30 a.m.

[Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include more information.]

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