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University of Toledo student, mother model pricey gowns in O magazine

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Denise Clark and her daughter Destanee show off the May edition of Oprah Winfrey's magazine, O, in which they are pictured on Page 69. The photo spread was part of a Make-A-Wish Foundation grant for Destanee, 20, who has a congenital heart condition. She is a sophomore at the University of Toledo, majoring in psychology, and is employed part-time at Wal-Mart on Central Avenue.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Oh, wow: O magazine.

That's where a dream came true for Destanee Clark, 20, of South Toledo - on Page 69 of the May issue, where she's decked out in a sleek, floor-length $1,195 Tory Burch gown.

She is pictured holding hands with her mother, Denise Clark of the Old West End, her elegant black dress accessorized with diamond jewelry and 6-inch-high heels.

The two are smiling happily for fashion photographer Nigel Barker, courtesy of Make-A-Wish Foundation and O, The Oprah Magazine.

"It was wonderful. It was a blessing to go through it. It's something I'll really hold on to," said Miss Clark, who has a congenital heart condition. She underwent her first open-heart surgery when she was 3 months old and a second when she was 10. "The next surgery is probably this year," she said.

Miss Clark's debut as a model in Oprah Winfrey's magazine started with a wish she made to the northwest Ohio chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation. She asked to go to modeling school, she explained, but when that couldn't be arranged, the local Make-A-Wish staff contacted the national office.

Brent Goodrich, a spokesman for Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, said celebrity stylist and model Mary Alice Stephenson often uses her connections in the fashion industry to help the foundation grant wishes like Miss Clark's. Wish recipients have appeared in Seventeen magazine, in fashion shows, and on television, he said.

"We grant dozens of modeling wishes every year," he went on. "This was special because of the association with O, and they took it a step further and included the mothers."

Miss Clark is one of four young women who were chosen for the magazine photo feature, titled "A Wish Fulfilled." She and her mother appear on the first page of the article, which also spotlights moms and daughters from Pennsylvania, Georgia, and California.

"I'm really close to my mom [and] it was even better that she was part of it. It was so much more special," said Miss Clark, who is a sophomore at the University of Toledo, majoring in psychology. The third of 10 children in the family, she works part-time at Wal-Mart on Central Avenue.

Miss Clark and her mother were treated to a week in New York in January. The photos were taken during that week, over a long day that included makeup, hair styling, and selection of their dresses.

Her mother said the day stretched from about 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., leaving her too tired to go out on the town to show off her newly glamorous look.

But the experience whet Miss Clark's appetite for more. "I wouldn't mind doing this every day," she said.

That wish just might come true, too: Mrs. Clark said they're making plans for her daughter to audition in June for a spot on the CW reality show America's Next Top Model.

Contact Ann Weber at

aweber@theblade.com

or 419-724-6126.

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