Our biggest event of the year, our annual Surviving with Style Fashion Show and Gala returns this month! Who better to bring the buzz than Matt Lorch? Cancer Pathways’ Shayla Ring calls our co-host and auctioneer of seven years to get to the heart of our gala. What brings Matt back after so many years? What is his most memorable experience with the gala? What celebrities have walked that stage? Keep reading for his take on the ‘pure magic’ we witness every year.
Let’s dive right in. Anna [Gottlieb] says you’ve been our emcee and Auctioneer for about 7 years. How did you first get involved with Cancer Pathways, and what led you to getting involved with our Gala?
I had heard about Cancer Pathways and I was always interested in the work they did. I was interested in the families, in the individuals that they were supporting, I love this concept of what the organization [does], doing everything that doctors and medical teams don’t do when it comes to cancer. Cancer impacts the whole family, and Cancer Pathways embraces the whole family, brings in the whole family, and says ‘How can we support you?’ During what is a really trying time.
So I had heard about Cancer Pathways and this event and what made it so special, and then when I was asked to be a part of it, I celebrated. I was through the roof. I was so excited, because I got to be part of something that I had known was incredibly special. But going into it I had no idea how remarkable it would be, and it was that and so much more.
You’re involved both behind-the-scenes on our committee and you’re on stage. What keeps you coming back and being that involved after all these years?
I think the models keep me coming back, and I love this organization. I love what it does and I love this event. It truly is unique. And it’s the models who shine. I mean, that’s why so many people show up.
They show up to support the work that Cancer Pathways is doing every day through our support groups, Camp Sparkle – which supports kids facing cancer, our [Cancer Unwrapped] essay writing program which engages teenagers impacted by cancer, but a lot of people show up because they want to support their survivor. Those are our models, these cancer survivors.
They want to celebrate their friends and loved ones and the fact that these people have shown so much courage in facing cancer, and now they’re showing courage once again by stepping on that stage and being a model which takes real courage to do. Most of us have never walked a catwalk before. These [models] are willing to show up, and just to see their loved ones in the audience cheering for them, screaming for them, celebrating them and what they’ve been through, celebrating their journeys, it is truly inspirational.
As someone who is involved with multiple charity auctions, what do you think sets our event, Surviving with Style, apart from others?
What sets this event apart from others is our models and that it’s a celebration of cancer survivors. That starts with their individual stories and sharing those when they’re on stage, but it also is a celebration of the fact that they look stunning. That this is a fashion show where the models are all cancer survivors and those models range in age from I think we’ve seen as young as … I remember a four-year-old, to someone who is 80, and everything in between.
To see them come together, share their unique stories about their cancer journey and how they’ve been able to overcome it, and share that with the other models, there is such a collaboration backstage. You see them hugging one another, supporting one another. Then they step out on that stage and they shine and the audience lights up. You see people swinging napkins, cheering for them, and to see the whole thing come together it is truly incredible to be a part of it.
To be able to play the role of co-host and auctioneer, it’s truly an honor for me and I look forward to it every year.
You’ve had the opportunity to witness so many amazing and inspiring stories what insights and wisdom have you learned about life from working on the gala and working with these survivors
How I reflect emotionally and personally on what I have learned from all of our models and survivors: don’t take life’s little moments for granted, because it can change like that. It can change in an instant with a diagnosis.
I think we all fear that. I’ve been touched by cancer. Two of my grandparents had cancer, an aunt of mine who I dearly love is a cancer survivor. I think so many of us have been impacted by cancer. So what I learned from these models is [to] embrace life. Enjoy life. Celebrate those around you who you love and don’t take life’s little moments for granted, because it can change quickly … so embrace it in every way you can.
What is a memory that stands out to you from past years?
So many memories because we’ve had so much fun at Surviving with Style but one does stick out. One has to do with Hunter Goodman who is the former Secretary of the Washington State Senate, he died of kidney cancer in 2019. His son Grayson … had the courage to get up on stage [with me] and share the impact that donations could deliver for Cancer Pathways and for kids like him.
It made me reflect on the support this organization is providing for families who are often in crisis.
When folks don’t know who to turn to, they often turn to Cancer Pathways, [who] is there to wrap their arms around them and say ‘We’re going to be here for you, we’re going to embrace you we’re going to love you, and we’re going to help you get through this.’ That’s what I realized it had done for the Goodman family.
In 2022 I was joined onstage by 7 year old Jaina, a cancer survivor herself. So, so cute and adorable. She had been to Camp Sparkle and she sparkled on that stage, she lit up the room, and for her to share what Camp had meant to her and how it helped her, that she got to meet other kids that also face cancer… It made me realize why we do this and why Cancer Pathways is so valuable for people young and old in our community.
Mostly I just remember the models. From our former Secretary of State Kim Wyman who was one of our models one year and lit up the stage, to Michael Wansley better known as ‘Wans’ who sang the hook for Macklemore’s Thrift Shop onstage.
It shows you that all of our models have a story, all of them have a journey with cancer, and so many of them have inspired us by overcoming cancer. To see them celebrate with their loved ones, their supporters in the room truly is remarkable. So many memories that I will never forget.
How would you describe surviving with style to someone who is attending for the first time?
Pure magic and inspiration. You enter that ballroom and you feel the love that this organization provides people in our community. You feel the love for our models, our cancer survivors. You feel that the moment you step in the ballroom until we do that final walk off the catwalk with our models and everybody is cheering and clapping and celebrating. It is pure magic.
What are you looking forward to most about this year’s event?
The fashion show. I’ve already met some of our cancer survivors, they are amazing, they all have very unique journeys when it comes to overcoming cancer. They all have stories that will move people emotionally.
Surviving with Style is a night of high fashion but it’s really about celebrating these cancer survivors, these people right here in our community. I cannot wait to get to our event night and just see them shine on stage. They look incredible, but more than that they are courageous people ready to strut their stuff and celebrate with their loved ones and their supporters.
Registration for our 26th annual Surviving with Style Gala is open now, as are opportunities for donations, auction items, sponsorships, and purchasing a table for a model’s loved ones. Don’t miss this unbelievable night celebrating strength, love, and survivorship.
Matt Lorch is an auctioneer, event host, emcee, and – Anna Gottlieb neglected to tell me this in our brief – a three-time Emmy Award Winning Storyteller. For the past seven years, Matt has lit up the stage as our co-host and auctioneer. Behind the scenes, he helps out as a committee member and makes a point to personally meet our models and learn their stories each year.