The Stars Come Out at Night

The two words you hear most from Cavaliers people – from players to coaches to front office – are “team” and “family.”

On Thursday night at The Q, the Cavaliers organization proved once again that those are more than just sentiments. It’s the way the Wine and Gold operates.

The annual “Flashes of Hope” fundraiser took place on the floor of Quicken Loans Arena – attended by hundreds to assist thousands.

Eight years ago, it started with a photo that wasn’t taken.

Allison Clarke’s four-year-old son, Quinn, was recovering from cancer surgery – having a part of his hip removed – at a local hospital. While Quinn convalesced, his two-year-old roommate in the pediatric ward was not so lucky. He passed away not long after.

Quinn lamented to his mom that his friend was gone and there was no photo of him.

And now, seven years later, Clarke – founder of “Flashes of Hope” – works diligently to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

"Big Shots & little stars" raised money for Flashes of Hope and the Children's Tumor Foundation. Flashes of Hope is a national nonprofit that changes the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography and raises money for pediatric cancer research. The Children’s Tumor Foundation is dedicated to improving the health and well being of children and families affected by neurofibromatosis.

After being held at Eaton Place through the first four years, Thursday’s event was Flashes of Hope’s first at The Q, and its first time teaming up with the Cavs Better Halves (the wives and girlfriends of Cavaliers players, coaches, management and staff).

The group’s first official photo shoot took place in 2002 and since then, Flashes of Hope operates chapters in 36 cities and eight camps. They reach 4,500 children – 35 percent of the 12,000 youngsters annually diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year.

Last night, flashbulbs were popping when some of these incredible portraits of hope were brought onto the runway – hoisted high above the catwalk by Cavaliers players and their mini-model companions.

Backstage at The Q, while several of the biggest “Big Shots” – Daniel Gibson, Leon Powe, Anthony Parker, Danny Green, Darnell Jackson, J.J. Hickson, Jamario Moon and Mo Williams – got dressed in the Cavaliers locker room, a pair of the “little stars” prepared for their moment in the limelight in a dressing room down the hall.

Seven-year-old Kya and five-year-old Gabrielle – both leukemia survivors – were excited and nervous for the catwalk. This year’s event was Kya’s second year modeling, and now that she’s got the jist of it, thinks fashion might be in her future.

Kya’s dream came true later that night when she shared the runway with her favorite player – Boobie Gibson. (Little Gabrielle’s favorite Cavalier – as she admitted with her head buried shyly in her mom’s lap – is Anderson Varejao.)

We didn’t need a fashion show to know that the Cavaliers are a squad of well-dressed men. But on Thursday night, several members of the Wine and Gold strutted their stuff to an eager audience.

Joined by several models from the Dockerty Agency as well Cavalier legends, Campy Russell and Austin Carr, the “Big Shots and little stars” made their way down the catwalk. Furs were provided by Albert’s and bags and sunglasses by Louis Vuitton.

Normally, performing on the floor of Quicken Loans Arena in shorts and tank tops, the Cavaliers were completely at ease in their finery.

Boobie Gibson was clad in sunglasses, jeans and a waist-length fur, while Leon Powe appeared in a three-button pinstripe suit and shades. Anthony Parker was dialed down in a salmon dress shirt and beige sport coat. Rookie Danny Green went with white shades, a maroon fur and a Vuitton bag. From last year’s rookie class, Darnell Jackson donned a waist-length fur and J.J. Hickson went with a black leather coat and scarf motif.

The dapper Mo Williams – who walked the catwalk with his wife, Kesha – rocked a black t-shirt and sport coat. But the man who stole the show – (and who might on the hardwood as well this season) – was Jamario Moon, excessorized to the hilt. The former Globetrotter was replete in a three-quarter length fur, shades, shirt and tie and Louis Vuitton shoulder bag. And he worked it, too!

A.C. and Campy – donning dark three-button pinstripe suits – are always dressed for the catwalk. And yesterday was no exception.

“Big Shots & little stars” has been named “Best Event of the Year” by the Plain Dealer for the past three years, and this year’s fundraiser, which drew as many as 750 people, should make it four straight. It was a gala event for a great cause.

Cavs play-by-play man Fred McLeod and his better half, Beth, emceed the event that included cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, as well as a spirited pre-fashion show performance by the Scream Team and Cavalier Girls. A nattily-dressed Moondog made his way through the crowd.

The Cavs Better Halves presented a silent auction filled with hand-selected items of all the players and, following the fashion show, there was a raffle and a playful version of “Deal or No Deal” – hosted by Channel 3’s Mark Nolan.

Some of the “Deal or No Deal” prizes included autographed items from both Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James. The raffle featured pieces from Mann Jewelers and Louis Vuitton and even a couple coveted spots on the Cavaliers team plane.

(To sweeten the pot on one prize, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert – who never misses the opportunity to break his head coach’s chops – offered to throw in an autographed Mike Brown Fathead. How it affected the bidding was uncertain. But Dan seemed to enjoy it.)