Raising green at a party in pink | AspenTimes.com

Raising green at a party in pink

Alison Berkley

Guess what. I’m having this huge party Friday and I really think you should come. It’s called The Princess in Pink Party, and it’s a benefit for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. We’re going to have pink drinks, pink desserts, a DJ, dancing, silent auction and this big ol’ fashion show. It’s from 6-11 p.m. Friday at the Sky Hotel. Write it down before you forget.The crazy thing is, I have never been the charitable type. I have never thought about wanting to save the world, or about helping people in need, or volunteering for this or that. The only time I’ve ever raised money was when my mom refused to pay for my plane ticket to Antigua for spring break in high school. My boyfriend had invited me to go sailing, and mom wanted nothing to do with it. So I started a charity for myself and raised money by writing term papers for half the senior class. I almost failed out of school, but I earned more than $1,000 in two weeks and learned more in that time than I had in four years.So when the Susan G. Komen people asked me if I’d be interested in helping out, my first reaction was “Huh?” But then something amazing happened. I thought about someone besides myself. I thought of my new friend Anne, who was going through chemotherapy when we first met. I had heard from mutual friends she was ill, but when we were finally introduced, I couldn’t believe it was the woman I’d heard about. She was lit up from within, radiant, composed and beautiful. I remember thinking, “Jesus, if she looks this good now, I can’t imagine what she looks like when she’s totally healthy.”From the minute we met, she was very open about her cancer, preferred to talk about it rather than sweep it under the rug. I was amazed by her fearlessness and focus, talking about the unfathomable reality of her condition as flippantly as I’d talk about produce at the farmers market. We’re talking about stuff like chemo and radiation and double mastectomy surgery and going bald, losing her eyelashes, even. One day I was bitching about my hair and she laughed and said, “At least you have hair!” She has this uncanny ability to joke around and be dead serious at the same time. Let’s just say it certainly put things in perspective for little old sheltered me.There were days the illness clouded her spirit, even if it hovered for only a few minutes. The light in her brown eyes would fade and harden like melted chocolate when it cools – still sweet, but not as warm. One day we went to see a movie and she was feeling nauseated from the chemo. The dark puffy circles under her eyes said everything so she didn’t have to. I thought she’d want to go home, but she only wanted to figure out what to eat that wouldn’t make her feel sicker. She settled for popcorn and headed into the theater.I remember we saw “Sideways,” and every time I heard her laugh it made me happy, just knowing the popcorn didn’t make her sick.We had only just met, only spent a few hours together. But her friends in this community spent countless hours, days, weeks, and months rallying around her and making sure she got the care she needed. They were with her when she shaved her head, after she had her breasts removed, and when she needed to be driven to Edwards every day for radiation treatment. Most of these people are on the board of the Aspen Animal Shelter where Anne is (get a load of this) a volunteer. I believe her involvement with the shelter, between the fulfillment of her work there and the compassion of the people involved may have saved her life.Needless to say, she inspired me to give this Komen thing a shot.It immediately put me in touch with an amazing group of people like Elaine Grossman and Lisa Consiglio (just so you know, these gals basically helped create the Ride for the Cure). Lisa is one of my heroes and now Elaine (also a breast cancer survivor) is, too. I love nothing more than surrounding myself with beautiful, powerful women like them. It makes me less whiny. Somehow I came up with this idea to do this party. I thought, breast cancer, pink, princess … it all seemed to fit. Then one day I found myself in the office of Alex Halperin, publisher of Aspen Peak. Alex is everything I want to be when I grow up. She has an awesome husband, two beautiful children, a pink cruiser bike, a Prada backpack, and many memorable years spent in Aspen (especially those she spent as the first woman on Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol – so cool!)So I told Alex my Princess party idea and man, does that woman know how to pull strings! The next thing I know she’s got the Sky Hotel booked, cases of vodka on the way, pink boas ordered, assistants hired (Sarah and Lauren, you rock!), and half the town has been informed they will want to be involved. Suddenly I’m producing a fashion show, running around town drumming up diamonds and furs and beautiful models and dressing hot rugby boys in pink shirts and surf shorts and figuring out how they’re going to carry me down the stairs. We’re talking serious Princess fantasyland.I’m having the best time of my life because for the first time in my life, I’m thinking about someone besides myself. Who knew being charitable could be this much fun?The Princess will definitely take it personally if you don’t show up at the party. Send your loving e-mail to alison@berkleymedia.com