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ONE OF A KIND Bethany Halbreich, 16, finds joy in being creative

Achieving your dreams can be very fulfilling, a feeling City Honors junior Bethany Halbreich can attest to. There's so much that Bethany wants to do and yet, so little time to do it all in. However, even with the time constraints that come with being a high school student, Bethany manages to make time to do what she loves -- being creative.

This past November, Bethany was able to showcase her creativity in a fashion show at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, displaying the dresses, casual clothes -- including jeans screen-printed with excerpts of her original poetry -- and necklaces she had designed.

Of this unique experience, Bethany says, "I had a lot of fun with it. It was really creative!"

However, while the thrill of displaying her designs was rewarding, the main purpose of the show was to benefit Carly's Club, the pediatric fundraising division of Roswell Park. During the show, Bethany raffled off 15 gift baskets, with all proceeds going to Carly's Club, where Bethany had been volunteering since she was 12.

While Bethany is a firm supporter of philanthropy, her donation also acts as a tribute to the battle against cancer, a fight that hits close to home for her.

Just months before her 12th birthday, Bethany was diagnosed with salivary cancer. That day would ultimately reshape her outlook on life. When the cancer was removed, Bethany knew that from then on, she would "live life day by day and accomplish my dreams right away, not wait until the end of high school or college."

And so, with this new philosophy for living her life, when Bethany was later encouraged to bring her designs to life, she decided to go ahead and embark on what would be a four-year journey to finish her first collection.

While Bethany knew what she wanted to create, there remained the question of how she would produce each piece. As many of us know all too well, money does not grow on trees and garments do not appear out of thin air. But with the money she had saved over the years and help from her parents, Bethany was able to fund her project and continue toward her dream of releasing a collection. And in a push toward independence, Bethany made an ongoing deal with her parents to pay them back with any money made off of her designs.

Money issues aside, the next obstacle was the actual process of turning her designs into clothing. Although she wished she could make each piece herself, Bethany knew "it would be impossible for me to do everything." And so, she formed a team with her mother, Judith Halbreich, and tailor Tanya Young, who drafted the patterns from Bethany's designs and made the designs a reality. However, since Tanya worked in St. Catharines, Ont., Bethany could only work on the clothes during weekends and vacations. On top of selecting all the fabrics and colors, as well as anything else that needed to be done, by working in a team, Bethany says she learned the importance of delegating responsibilities and of having leadership skills.

Bethany did all the beading on the dresses, as well as designed and made necklaces, which were also displayed in the show. Bethany has enjoyed beadwork since she was young, and with practice, has advanced from basic beading to using many types of beads and creating more intricate designs.

The beads in the necklaces and on the dresses hold a special significance for Bethany. Having had the opportunity to visit several different countries with her parents throughout the years, Bethany began to collect beads from her travels. Her father, Uriel Halbreich, would also bring home beads when he went traveling abroad, and so Bethany gathered a "potluck of international beads." The dresses, too, reflect Bethany's love of travel. Many of her designs are largely inspired by the fashions she has seen traveling the world, in countries such as Morocco, France, and China, among others.

Bethany's travel experiences also gave her a love of international cooking. Her passion for cooking and traveling was united when Bethany, along with mentor Frank Rossi, wrote and produced a test episode of a TV show. The show she envisioned involved visiting foreign countries where Bethany would examine the culture, fashion and of course, the food. Although Bethany says interest has been received in the show and she flew to Los Angeles to meet with a producer, she feels that it is one venture that may have to wait until she gets out of school.

Bethany is still out to spread her love of international cuisine, making guest appearances on "AM/PM Buffalo," where she cooked Moroccan and Mexican dishes. When asked which dish she preferred, Bethany exclaims, "It's too hard to pick! They're both so good."

In the meantime, aside from spreading the joy of cooking, Bethany has other dreams to follow. While she has successfully launched her clothing line and released a collection, Bethany is looking to sell her "casuals," consisting of hoodies and jeans, among other things, at boutiques and her gowns through her Web site, www.bethanyworldwide.com.

While her temporary goal is to sell what has already been made, Bethany plans to continue onward, using the profits from this collection to fund a second collection -- that is, after paying back her parents. And after college, Bethany plans to establish a fashion company, all while maintaining her philanthropic roots as she continues to donate to various charities. Rossi notes that Bethany, always ambitious, is always fighting "for the betterment of mankind."

It's a lofty goal, atop a pile of other dreams to pursue. Even so, Bethany keeps finding more things to do. Having received a loud awakening in the form of cancer, Bethany says she has realized that "every day is a gift and since every day is so special, you should accomplish your dreams," a credo she firmly lives by.

Heeseung Kim is a junior at City Honors.

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