Denim and Diamonds puts the “fun” into “fundraising,” giving local women a girls’ night out while raising money to help fight cancer.
The annual event, now in its 13th year, was held at the Rural Development Center on Thursday. Organizer Brooke Whitis said the program was a way for women to socialize and have a “judgment-free” fancy dress party just for themselves.
“Every year, women are going to think, ‘What am I wearing? I have to go buy something. And I tell them, whatever the theme, ‘Don’t go buy anything to put on. There’s something in your closet that when you put it on you know you feel good It could be a church dress It could be a cocktail dress It could be jeans and a t-shirt I want you to go out there and get what you feel good in and that’s what I want you to wear.
Hence the theme of denim and diamonds.
Whitis explained: “When we started all those years ago, we asked the women in the community what they wanted, and they gave us three things: they said not on a Friday or a Saturday, because it’s family time; a week or two after school starts, because they want to have fun; and they said, ‘We don’t want any men there.’ A woman said it beautifully. Her husband is a bank employee, and she said, “When I come to events, I know I’m representing my husband and the bank he works at. When I come here, I am me.
In fact, over the years, Whitis has said she tries to only allow three men to attend – John Alexander as emcee, Eric Picket the DJ from Pickett Dynamic Entertainment and Mark Pilcher from Diamond Design Jewelers. , which offers a diamond ring every year.
The event also features music to dance to, photo booths, a silent auction, a Sassy Spoon catered meal, and several contests.
There was the highest heel and the blingy-ist shoes. This year, organizers also held a bingo contest where the winner received a Kate Spade tote and wallet worth $599.
There were also 25 vendors that the women could shop with, sporting a range of items like jewelry, wine and clothing.
But ultimately, the reason for the event was to raise money for the American Cancer Society, and Whitis said she makes sure women don’t forget that reason.
Two of the moments that make up the event pay tribute to those who have faced the disease. One is a survivors’ ceremony, where women who currently have or have had cancer tell attendees how long they have been survivors.
“Some of these ladies who were at the survivor ceremony, it was the first time in a public place that they showed they were survivors,” Whitis said. ” It’s a big problem. When you make your first announcement, you kind of open that box and people never consider you a survivor again. So it can be hard for people to accept.
The second is the Light of Hope, a light ceremony where people can light a candle in honor or in memory of someone in their life who has faced cancer.
Whitis said the event raised about $32,500 this year and in terms of attendance, it was a record.
“We normally have an average of 420 women. This year I had 630,” she said.
She had to add more tables than expected to keep up with demand, and tickets sold out within six hours.
All money raised goes to cancer research and programs like the Hope Lodge in Lexington.
Next year’s event is already scheduled for August 17, she said.