Fashion community’s latest benefit is ‘Biker Babes’ for Eblen Charities


Betsy Fregoso channels Joan Jett, as a brash guitar hero.

Rock Eblen’s Pizza ‘Pan-Demonium’ pizza cook-off contest featured the Biker Babe fashion show that Sarah Merrell organized. Eblen’s Bioflyer Productions staged the benefit May 17, in Highland Brewery in Asheville. Eblen called it a “great success, with more than 200 guests showing their support for Eblen Charities.” The $25 admission included all-you-can-eat pizza and a beer.

Merrell is a driving force in catapulting local fashion into greater commercial and civic collaborations and contributions. She is organizing the first-ever Asheville Fashion Week, Aug. 5-8, to promote fashion and art and bring together fashion houses and purchasers.

Biker Babes is the latest benefit show. “Most of our fashion shows have supported non-profits and charities,” she told The Tribune. Merrell tries to follow a “giving philosophy.”

Her parents David and Maggie Desforge of Asheville attended the benefit. They are proud of her civic efforts. “It’s awesome, how she donates or heavily discounts her time,” Maggie said. “Her Dad is a pastor. We believe in ministry.” Sarah’s volunteering includes helping Buncombe young school children, such as with how to put on makeup.


Biker Babes organizer Sarah Merrell is with her parents, Maggie and David Desforge, outside Highland Brewery. Family friend Jill Critchfield is behind them, at left.

In her work, Sarah Merrell handles local talent and marketing for Gage Models & Talent Agency of Knoxville, Tenn. She models, teaches modeling classes, and is a fashion blogger.

Biker Babe models included Masha Bachuk, Betsy Fregoso, Jacqueline Lowe, Kay Marie, Nichole Martinez, Felicia Raye, Sarah Rachel Riddle, Victoria Springer, Sarah Nicole Snider, and Ginger Wilde. They had fun showcasing creative designs.

“Awesome!” is how Riddle described the atmosphere, and helping others via such benefits. “It’s a good cause, and not just for fun and fashion,” Snyder said. Lowe calls it a creative “balance.” And Bachuk remarked, “It’s amazing how we can provide people with assistance, through our modeling.”

Their leather outfits were designed by Lyn Lyndall, with styling by Dani Chaboudy of Enchanted Forrest. Snyder’s cheeks were adorned by studs, which she terms Danielle Ophelia Southcott’s “signature” styling touch. MR Motorcyle provided motorcycles, as fashion props.

Musical treats included from the combo of Joe Lasher Jr., Andalyn Lewis, Miranda Clark, and Zach Haney. Other performers were Rock Eblen, Indigo De Souza, Linda Mitchell, Nikki Forbes, Garrett Nelson, and the Zuzu Welsh Band.

Various local restaurants provided event patrons with pizza samples. The “people’s choice” was Favilla’s New York Pizza. Judges awarded Nona Mia Italian Kitchen for best meat combo, and Del Vecchio’s for best veggie combo. Others competing were Brixx, Frank’s Roman Pizza, Mellow Mushroom, and Strada.


“Biker Babe” Jacqueline Lowe forges a Kiss-like, tongue-tantalizing persona in the fashion show.

Eblen Foundation won the most recent Mother Teresa Prize for Global Peace and Leadership. It was begun in 1991, by Rock’s father Joe Eblen who owned Biltmore Oil Co. and Eblen Short Stop convenience marts. Various social and crisis aids programs emerged, such as for school dropout prevention.

Joe Eblen died two years ago. “He has touched countless lives,” Eblen Charities Exec. Dir. Bill Murdock has stated. Rock Eblen carries on the family philanthropy.

The Kimmel and Associates Human Fund, a focus of the pizza-fashion benefit, helps local students train in construction management through Building Future Builders.Two foundations are affiliated with Eblen Charities and Buncombe County native sports heroes — Brad Daugherty and Darren Holmes. Retired NBA all-star Daugherty, now a NASCAR analyst, sponsors a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway and benefit golf tourney.

Holmes, retired World Series champion baseball reliever, has an Acceleration Sports Institute to help local athletes, first responders and others to better train in fitness. Super Bowl-winning, retired quarterback Brad Johnson’s golf tourney has benefited Eblen Charities.

Check, for more details. For more on the upcoming fashion week, check

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