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OFFICIAL RESPONSE FROM THE 2018 FASHION EVENT COMMITTEE IN REGARDS TO THE STORY AIRED ON MAY 9, 2018 DURING THE TEN O’CLOCK NEWS; β€œKBTX INVESTIGATES EXPENDITURES RELATED TO THE FASHION EVENT FUNDRAISER”

The 2018 Fashion Event committee (TFE) would like to make an Official Response to the allegations made against the current Executive Director,Chance Okonski, and clear up any questions or concerns the public may have regarding any handling of finances and management of the 2018 event. The committee was never given an opportunity to discuss the event, the financial information given to KBTX, or the accusations made. The first time these allegations were made aware to the committee was at the end of a check presentation to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. The committee would appreciate the opportunity to present the facts accordingly.  

Below is an overview comparison from TFE 2017 to TFE 2018:

(Brazos Valley Fashion Week 2016 Rev/Exp Reports were not passed year-to-year to subsequent committee members)

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The success or failure of an organization should not solely be based on monetary value and comparisons without taking into account the changing variables from previous years to this year. The Fashion Event (formerly Brazos Valley Fashion Week) has been structured differently from year to year; not only the location of the event and charitable partner, but also the Chair/Executive Director has been different each year.   

As seen above, this year the committee did not generate the same revenue/sponsorship amounts and, unfortunately, did not have the same financial backing from a generous committee member that covered a large portion of the expenses to ensure past events reached more than what was donated the previous year. The committee would also like to add that the previous Fashion Shows in 2016 & 2017 included children which helped boost ticket sales.   

100% of TFE 2018 expenses were paid by the organization with funds solely donated by sponsors, which cannot be said for previous years. There is nothing wrong with that, however, that luxury was not afforded to the organization this year. Any amount raised for charity should be applauded. The executives from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas were extremely appreciative and even stated that,

The Fashion Event’s donation was one of the largest 3rd party donations we have received to date.
— Carolyn Schwarz - CEO (RMHC of Central Texas)

The committee would also like to add that there was no single committee member in complete control over the finances. Multiple committee members, including a paid employee of one of the Title Sponsors (who served as the TFE 2018 Financial Director), were all privy to TFE bank account/financials before, during, and after the event. Everyone involved with TFE 2018 was supportive of choices made throughout the entire event process from planning, setup, and execution. It was only when it became apparent that the donation amount was less than previous years, were concerns raised.  

The main goals this year were to 1) raise money for charity and 2) raise awareness for whatever charity that was chosen. The committee is proud of what was accomplished this year. As a group, a lot was learned and the committee is looking forward to making the event even better in the years to come.

Hotel rooms, alcohol, and food: Most of the costs associated with hosting The Fashion Event at The Stella Hotel were out of our control. By contract, the organization was required to use The Stella for all food and drinks during the 3-day event.

For comparison, the tent that the event was held in last year cost $19,000 (which included just the tent & flooring-- not the generator, cords/adapters, or portable toilets). The total bill for The Stella Hotel this year was $19,059.15 (including everything from food/water for the models, alcoholic beverages for our attendees, as well as hotel rooms for 7 designers, 3 committee members- one from San Antonio, 2 paid staff- from out of town, and 3 RMHC representatives from Austin).

Food and drinks provided during the event were not only for TFE committee members, but also for models, hair/makeup personnel, designers, the production crew, and sponsors/charity executives-- just as it has been done the previous two years. The hotel rooms, utilized by committee members, served not only as planning/meeting spaces but also secured valuable clothing, promotional items, and raffle items.

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Included below is a comparison from some of the other various expenses from year-to-year.

The committee understands that there is always room to improve an event as well as securing more sponsors to offset expenses, but all aspects of the event were handled with integrity, respect, and giving hearts for an honorable charity in the area that impacts local families. Any distortion of these facts to the committee members, designers, volunteers, local talent, sponsors, and donation recipient is not only unfortunate for the cause but for all those who worked so hard to make this event successful.

 

Respectfully,

The 2018 Fashion Event Committee

 

May 12, 2018 9:00 PM