Pink tablecloths. Pink napkins. Pink aprons. Pink scarves. Pink wigs. Pink ribbons.
Gillbrook Farms was quite simply tickled pink Sunday for Pennsylvania Pink Zone’s fourth annual Little Black Dress Goes Pink fundraising kickoff. About 200 people gathered to socialize, wine and dine in an ocean of pink, with funds raised through registrations, raffles and a silent auction supporting breast cancer organizations, charities and facilities both locally and nationally.
“This is our big kickoff event to get people excited about what we call our ‘pink zone season,’ ” Executive Director Miriam Powell said.
For the first few hours, guests are invited to get acquainted and place bids in the silent auction, she said. Men from the community volunteer to serve drinks and food, and a few are even auctioned off to act as personal butlers for the evening.
The highlight of the event, however, is the fashion show.
“All the models in the show are breast cancer survivors,” Powell said, “and some of them have family members showing with them as well, to go along with the idea that when someone has cancer in the family, it affects the whole family.”
Pam Asencio, of State College, modeled outfits from Diamonds and Lace Bridal Boutique and Appalachian Outdoors along with her two daughters, Sydney and Samantha. According to her modeling profile, she’ll be cancer-free for six years in December.
Asencio said she’s participated as a model each year and has served on the black dress committee for two years. Her husband and son volunteered time during the event as well.
“I always feel I have been so blessed to be here,” she said. “It feels good to pay it forward in any way possible, because to continue the search for a cure is essential.”
Mount Nittany Health President and CEO Steve Brown volunteered his time as a butler, saying he was incredibly proud to be associated with the group and comes out every year for the event.
“Pink Zone is one of the biggest fundraising events for us that we don’t sponsor,” he said. “Every penny goes back to equipment, services and programs that are directly related to breast cancer.”
For Mount Nittany, he said, Pink Zone fundraising has helped pay for a breast care navigator, who helps patients navigate the health care system. Pink Zone has also funded a breast cancer resource center and paid for one of three 3-D tomosynthesis machines.
Brown, along with three other volunteers, was auctioned off as a personal butler early in the evening. More than $1,600 was raised in the auction.
Powell said she was hopeful the event would raise between $15,000 and $20,000. The money raised will be part of the total raised by Pink Zone this year, she said, which will be distributed at the end of the fiscal year to six beneficiaries: Mount Nittany Health, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Kay Yow Cancer Fund, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Geisinger Lewistown Hospital.
“Our Pink Zone mission focuses on empowering breast cancer survivors while also working to raise money for education, treatment and research in the field of breast cancer,” Powell said in an earlier news release. “It’s about celebrating, inspiring and making a difference together.”