If you tell Lily Brasch she can’t do something, odds are she’ll prove you wrong. On Friday, the Orthodox Jewish model became the first woman with muscular dystrophy to walk the runway at New York fashion week unassisted. She is the second person ever with the condition to appear — the first was actress and model Jillian Mercado in 2020 who was in a wheelchair.
She also didn’t compromise Shabbos to do it. Lily observes Shabbat and her runway appearance was set for 5 p.m. on Friday (not ideal). She made it work though — walking down in her gorgeous gold sari from the brand Randhawa (she’s currently on their homepage) and then heading straight to a hotel nearby to keep Shabbos there with her sisters.
The feat is so remarkable because when Lily was 16, she was told she would never be able to walk. While at first it felt like an unbearable mountain to climb, she took that information and set out to overcome it.
This is just another addition on the list of accomplishments Lily has accrued (and the second mountain). She climbed Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona as well as competed in body-building competitions. She’s also a regular gym goer.
She believes so deeply in overcoming these imposed limitations that she started her own foundation aptly named Born to Prove, which promotes disability awareness and breaking barriers.
Lily credits her Jewish identity as her guiding light through all of this. “My Jewish identity has inspired me in that we’re all put on this earth for a reason. Every single one of us has a purpose and that’s what my religion has helped me find,” she said.
Lily is using this win to propel her goals further. She posted on her account: “Enough telling kids what they can’t do …. Let’s tell them what they CAN do … Disability or not … every single one of us has a struggle that has made us stronger … 💪💕”
She hopes this move will inspire more companies to feature increased diversity in their campaigns. “I hope that next time it’s not me — it’s the next girl.”