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Posse parties with a purpose

The 'Party Girls' put the fun in fund-raising
by: marcus hathcock, The Party Girls pause for a moment during their Party for a Cure on Saturday, March 17.

This summer's Relay For Life - an overnight fund-raiser used to spread the awareness of cancer and celebrate survivors - is still four months away, but that didn't stop one team from getting the party started. Literally.

The 'Party Girls,' a relay team composed of 17 local women, held an invitation-only St. Patrick's Day celebration to party for a cure at Mt. Hood Athletic Club - which donated the space for the event - and kick their relay fund-raising into high gear.

'Each of us has our own stories,' said organizer and Party Girl Jenn Groza, who lost her father and father-in-law to cancer. 'I'm relaying for my kids so they don't have to go through the same thing. The Party Girls is a way to raise money for a really good cause in a fun way.'

The event featured a slew of activities, including a silent auction, food, drinks, music, three guest speakers, a quarter tossing game, blackjack, poker and raffles. They also decorated luminary bags, one of the signature aspects of the Relay For Life that uses white bags filled with sand and candles and decorated with names, pictures or other mementos to honor cancer survivors or in memory of those who did not survive.

'(Last year's relay) was my first year, so it was the first time I saw the luminary bags,' said Party Girl Debi Van. 'That was really emotional.'

Organizers of the St. Patrick's Day party hoped to see more than 100 people turn out and set a fund-raising goal of $10,000. They didn't quite meet expectations but still consider the event a success with approximately 90 people in attendance and $5,026.46 raised.

'I think everybody had such a great time, and the turnout was awesome,' said Party Girl Kim Scott. 'It was fun watching everybody have fun.'

Party Girls started when Groza, Scott and Paula Root came up with the idea to raise money by throwing parties. Scott and Root both served on the silent auction committee for the Sandy Relay, and Groza served as a board member for the Relay For Life in Gresham.

"We talked about doing a team of fun women," said Scott. "Jenn said that she wanted to do something for Relay For Life for her event planning business (Oregon Eventz). I said cool."

The Party Girls hope to continue their momentum with another party Friday, May 18, that centers on the group's members. Since many of the women are home-based business owners, the May party will invite the community to shop at eight of their businesses with proceeds going to benefit the team.

Their fund-raising efforts also found some good-spirited competition from local companies Clackamas County Bank and AEC to see who can raise the most money for the event. And as many of the Party Girls have learned, the community is more than willing to help out for such a good reason.

'It's been a great time,' said Scott. 'There's so much support from people. They know it's for a really good cause.'

'We've had to turn people away (from joining the group),' Van said. 'We're thinking about starting Party Girls 2.'

For more information about the Party Girls, call 503-810-0932 or mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information about the Relay For Life, visit www.relayforlife.org.