You might be familiar with Gustavus Adolphus College graduate Carly Aplin ’07. You might have seen her interviewing Hollywood celebrities on the Twin Cities television station CW 23, or interviewing Snocross racers for CBS Sports Network or Fox Sports North. You could have also heard her on one of several radio stations in the Twin Cities including KFAN’s PowerTrip Morning Show, 93X, and KDWB’s Dave Ryan in the Morning Show. What you might not know about Aplin is that she is also the creator and director of a unique local charity event that raises money and awareness for women’s heart health.
In 2011, Aplin had the opportunity to attend the national Red Dress event during New York Fashion Week and it sparked an idea to organize a similar event in the Twin Cities. After returning from New York, Aplin approached the local fashion organization MNfashion and together they selected a group of dedicated designers and local celebrity models to create Minnesota’s own Red Dress Collection.
The event, which was held this winter at the Graves Hotel in mid-February, pairs local designers with local celebrity models for a one-of-a-kind runway show. All proceeds from ticket sales, a silent auction, and additional donations benefit the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women program.
“I have a passion for raising funds and awareness for heart disease. Heart disease continues to be the number one killer of women and sharing that message is very important to me. Eighty percent of heart disease is preventable, so we can make a difference simply by spreading awareness,” Aplin said. “We also have a thriving fashion scene in Minnesota that sometimes gets overlooked. This event gives our talented local designers a chance to showcase a custom piece from their collection. We hope Red Dress Collection exposes these designers to a new audience each year.”
Some of the most recognizable women in the Twin Cities took part in the runway show this year including KARE-11 anchor Julie Nelson, the host of HGTV’s show “Rehab Addict” Nicole Curtis, KDWB morning show co-host Falen Bonsett, Twin Cities Live host Elizabeth Ries, KARE-11 reporter Jana Shortal, and others. The event also has several sponsors including University of Minnesota Physicians Heart at Fairview, the Lillehei Heart Institute, and Prime Therapeutics.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have many of the same partners onboard since the very first Red Dress event in 2012,” Aplin said. “We have a great team in place to make this event bigger and better each year. Because of our generous sponsors, donors, and guests, we’ve been able to donate $40,000 to Go Red for Women over the past three years.”
Aplin, who was raised in St. Cloud, was familiar with Gustavus during her high school years because her older sister Katie ’05 is also a Gustie.
“After visiting her several times, I decided this was a school I wanted to be a part of,” Carly said. “The academics, ELCA affiliation, and sense of community were all huge factors for me.”
Aplin pursued a degree in communication studies and says she was influenced academically and personally by professors Leila Brammer and Terry Morrow, who encouraged her to remain curious, continue learning, and maintain high expectations for herself.
“Gustavus provided me with a well-rounded educational experience that not only prepared me for a career in broadcast journalism, but also taught me to pursue my passion,” Aplin said. “At Gustavus, college is about more than a letter grade. We were constantly challenged to do more for our community and each other. There’s a wonderful sense of community and caring on the Gustavus campus and I do my best to carry that with me into my personal and professional life.”
Aplin plans to continue to grow the Red Dress Collection event in the years ahead. Anyone interested in attending or contributing to the cause can find out more information at reddressmn.com.
“The goal is to put ourselves out of an event,” Aplin said. “We love Red Dress, but someday, if we no longer need awareness and funds for women’s heart health, well, that will be something to celebrate – in red dresses, of course.”