September 26, 2020

BY LAURIE SNELL
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Hundreds of local women slipped on their party shoes and danced the night away Friday night.

Wearing wacky heels, women gathered at the Holiday Inn Kitchener on Jan. 31 for Waterloo Region’s first Heels for Hope event, put on by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Greeted by several volunteers and a tower of Kool-Aid-filled champagne glasses, each attendee wore their highest, brightest, most-patterned pair of heels and semi-formal attire as the co-ordinators suggested. Red heels, floral-patterned pumps, white boots with heels that read “Heels 4 Hope,” rainbow-coloured, studded heels and pink wedges – every style of shoe imaginable – heightened the confidence of the participants.

Upon registration, women were encouraged to fill out raffle coupons for door prizes before heading inside. The hallway leading to the ballroom was filled with items donated by local businesses as well as volunteers ready to talk about opportunities and other events in the future.

Shoppers Drug Mart, the Charcoal Group, Bibo Boutique, Sole Restaurant and Ontario Lottery and Gaming were just a few of the many companies that contributed to the silent and live auctions. The Holiday Inn, one of the largest sponsors, donated the venue, a live auction prize valued at $1,500 and caterers for the function – a donation many were unaware of until the night was nearly over.

Rogers Kitchener radio stations – including 106.7, 570 News and 96.7 CHYM FM – were other key contributors to the event.

Long-term Canadian Cancer Society volunteer Kathleen Colson was the first to welcome everyone, explaining the significance of the event and how amazing it is for so many to come together for a cause. But moving beyond sentiment, she encouraged attendees to “hang on to your heels and have fun,” before introducing 96.7 fm’s Adele, who was emcee for the evening.

While almost everyone in the room had been touched by cancer in one way or another, the evening was more about empowerment, knowledge and having fun while increasing awareness, research and enhancing our medical future.

Karen Griffiths, manager of the Waterloo Canadian Cancer Society branch, was thrilled the event sold out, with well over 300 attendees. “That was way more than we could have imagined – we figured 200 to 250 at the most,” Griffiths said. “The entire event is sponsored with some very, very minimal expenses …”

Griffiths said the organization was looking to keep their budget around $10,000 and believes they were successful in doing so.

Each ticket cost $25, and included an unexpected spread of different pasta salads, a carving station, mashed potato bar, desserts, coffee and tea. As groups of women continued to trickle in around 8 p.m., Adele introduced organizers and explained the night’s agenda, which included an ongoing silent auction, an unconventional fashion show, fashion and hair tutorials, jewelry and accessories advice, door prizes, a live auction, salsa lessons, live music from Brantford musician Meauxx Wilson, and an unexpected dance contest at the end of the night.

Tracey Hillier, jewelry and accessories enthusiast, took to the stage to share secrets on dressing up and dressing down your outfits with simple fixes. “The key to accessorizing is to stick to something simple to enhance your look,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to use colour, especially when it comes to jewelry. Let your personality shine through and don’t be afraid to have fun.”

“The models walk(ed) around the room and each had a different outfit on and then were all on risers throughout the evening. So they were stationary for about an hour or so,” Griffiths said, adding that presenters and designers were on hand to talk about the outfits and offer fashion advice. With women of all shapes, sizes and fashion styles, many local businesses such as Harmony by Earth Winds in Uptown Waterloo had the opportunity to participate and share upcoming trends.

Heels for Hope wrapped up just after midnight, and Griffiths is counting on another one next year. A male counterpart event is being considered.

“We have talked about doing something later in the year toward prostate cancer or men’s health, but we already have such a strong roster of events that it’s a lot of work to pull off an event. So next year we want to hold a second annual Heels for Hope function and get a committee involved,” Griffiths said.

For more information on events, volunteering or donating to the Canadian Cancer Society, visit www.cancer.ca.

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