London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
After the fairytale of their wedding day wraps up, many women will box up their dress for storage and it will never be seen again.
Talea Danbrook and the organizers of Dressfest have another suggestion for that particular wardrobe choice. Instead of leaving the wedding dress in the closet, break it out of the box, put it on, and have fun raising money in support of the London Regional Cancer Program’s patient assistance program.
The third annual Dressfest takes place on Oct. 27 at the Greenhills Golf Club. However, the original idea for the event took shape in a basement with a group of Danbrook’s friends.
“For whatever reason, some of us were having babies, getting married, but once we got through all that, we decided it would be fun to put our dresses on and have girl’s night in,” said Danbrook, who is one of the six Dressfest committee members. “It was wine and appetizers, just having fun together. From that point, we thought maybe there would be more people who this would appeal to. We thought maybe this could turn it into something positive and we could do it on a larger scale, have some local charity benefit from it.”
With so many people being affected by cancer, Danbrook said it was the group’s choice to support an organization that works hand-in-hand with those battling the disease.
The first year, Dressfest raised around $29,000 and then approximately $33,000 in the second year, totals that included corporate matching from ScotiaMcLeod where the women work. The first two years saw a big jump in attendance from the 10 women who gathered in that basement with 100 and 110 women respectively attending the festivities.
“We were kind of nervous the first year. We realize that for some people, it would have been a long time since they had that dress on. They might need to get creative to get into the dress or other people went out and got new ones at consignment stores,” Danbrook said. “Our moms all went out and got new ones just so they could be part of the night. Value Village has been a source for people so they could take part.”
Danbrook said that regardless of the attachment someone has to their dress, it still strikes some participants a little strange to see 100 women wearing their wedding dresses to a fundraiser. However, Danbrook said the “very warm atmosphere” of the evening quickly warms people up.
Having raised about $62,000 in its first year, Danbrook said the goal for this third year is to reach the $100,000 mark. Those expectations have been lifted, Danbrook said, because committee members are already hearing from people trying to get big groups of women together, along with a large contingent looking to attend for the first time.
“It is a place you get together with a bunch of women, everyone has a night to feel beautiful and have some fun,” Danbrook said. “We have heard from the people who have benefited, some have attended the event and talked about how they had been through cancer and how much this kind of event meant to them.”
It also means a great deal to Danbrook and the other organizers. Danbrook said she can’t help but feel immense pride when she looks at 100 women who chose to throw on their wedding dresses and come together to support those fighting the battle of their lives.
“Who hasn’t been affected by cancer? You can be left feeling very helpless whether you have been through it or have watched someone you care about go through it,” Danbrook said. “To create this event, to have so many people get involved through donations or being there, we have taped into that desire to give back. I feel such joy.”
Tickets for Dressfest are $70 and are available online and at the door. For more information phone 519-854-2970 or visit www.dressfest.ca.
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