Throwing an event for 500 guests with no budget to speak of might sound like an impossible task, but Marissa Morettin, chair of the Red & White Ball—an annual benefit in support of Rethink Breast Cancer—and a handful of friends did just that at the Courthouse on Friday. “This is truly a volunteer-driven event,” Morettin said of the sixth-annual fund-raiser. “We're all friends and we pull this event off in our spare time. We want to encourage people our age to get into the spirit of philanthropy.”
Morettin worked with a team of six people to organize the 2008 event. “Last year it was myself and someone else.... Every year I don't know why I do this, but it just amazes me—the number of people who step up to the plate is unbelievable,” she said. “We don't spend a penny. Our costs are nothing. We get everything donated.” The team used social media tools like Facebook to create buzz for the event, and Elliott Chun of Optimum Public Relations donated his PR skills to attract media.
Morettin created atmosphere by filling two fireplaces with tealights, which she placed throughout the venue in an effort to avoid any decor costs. “We don't spend any money on decor. We're trying to leverage our sponsors to create visual appeal,” she said. Flirty Girl Fitness—the studio that offers classes in pole and lap dancing—provided dancers for a burlesque performance. Telus created a lounge for guests and offered Pink Pearl cupcakes to those who posed for photos with the new pink BlackBerry Pearl phone. Models wearing angel wings also posed for pictures at a display sponsored by Diesel fragrances.
Morettin reported that the name recognition associated with Rethink Breast Cancer helped to secure sponsorships this year. In fact, several companies approached the organization offering to help out with the event, including the HGTV program Petal Pushers, which debuts this summer. “They approached us and asked if they could be a part of it [and provide the flowers],” Morettin said. “We find that people are coming to us now.”
Event sponsors included Schick Quattro, Speed Stick, Telus, Diesel, Finlandia, Moët, Belvedere Vodka, Yellow Tail, and New Balance.