When Lori Rodden was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013, her husband was worried she would die.
Three years later, Rodden was one of the models strutting down the pink runway at Thursday night's Pink Party in Blue Back Square. All proceeds of the fifth annual event benefited the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Southern New England.
"My message to people is you have to go for mammograms and screenings," said Rodden, a member of the Komen board of directors. "As scary as it is, if I didn't go ... I would be in a very different place."
In the past four years, the event has raised about $140,000, said Elizabeth DiMartino, Komen's marketing and communications manager.
Komen invests 75 percent of the net funds raised to support local breast health education, screening and treatment, and dedicates the remaining 25 percent to national research to find the causes and cures for breast cancer, said Lori van Dam, CEO of Komen Southern New England.
"This is one of my favorite events of the year," van Dam said. "It's amazing how many people don't know the basics about breast cancer."
Second-year model Abbie O'Brien of West Hartford said she was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year ago. She said she wants women to understand that cancer doesn't discriminate by age, and young women are still at risk.
"[The Pink Party] brings together a group of women that share a common experience that certainly isn't a pleasant one," she said. "When you are here, it brings together a community."
Miguelina Pons of Hartford said she attended the event to cheer on her boss, who was a model in the fashion show. Pons said she is also a cancer survivor, and finished treatment in April.
"I come from Puerto Rico and I went through this alone," she said. "With this, it gives us life back."