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      Annual event sheds light on child abuse

      People dressed up in poodle skirts and Converse sneakers for the annual prom.

      Dozens came out in poodle skirts and Chuck Taylor sneakers for the annual prom for the annual McMahon-Ryan Child Advocacy Center.

      The fifties-themed event shed light on child abuse, an issue that has taken center stage since the rape of an innocent 10-year-old girl on March 14 near Great Northern Mall and the abuse allegations against former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.

      "I have young boys, so you really start thinking differently about people your children are affiliated with, especially coaches, "said Anne Matt, a co-chair of the event. "And you think, it takes a little bit of your innocence away."

      The recent case near the Great Northern Mall is now raising awareness and support for the McMahon-Ryan Child Advocacy Center.

      "Not as many people think it happens around, and you don't want to believe it does, but it does, and there needs to be a place in our community for it, where people can go and seek help," said Matthew Ural, a guest at tonight's prom.

      The event featured special guest Thom Filicia, a TV personality and interior designer, famous for his role on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Filicia hopes the center's work will help make child abuse a thing of the past. "The preventative measures that they're taking, in terms of education, is hopefully going to make this sort of an obsolete thing," Filicia said.

      In addition to working with victims of abuse, the center is also focusing its attention on preventing future cases from happening.

      "I'd like to focus more on prevention," said Linda Cleary, the center's Executive Director. "I've said a couple times that one child is one child too many. You'd like to see less and less children coming through that door."