Thursday’s unfavorable weather wasn’t enough to keep community members from enjoying downtown Howell’s 11th annual Pink Party.

Partiers braved the rain to paint the city pink to celebrate survivors of breast cancer and to remember those that were taken too soon by the disease. The yearly event raises funds for breast cancer services and research at the St. Joseph Mercy Brighton Cancer Center. Funds from past events helped to purchase a Stereotactic Needle Biopsy System for breast cancer screening and an ultrasound unit to aid in detection. Pink Party President Diana Biermann says they hope to be able to purchase a second ultrasound unit to increase access for local women.

The rain stopped and a rainbow appeared in the sky just before the crowning of the Queen of the Night. This year’s winner is Julie Cotton of Howell who says she decided to come to the Pink Party for the first time to celebrate the memory of her friend who died just over a year ago after battling breast cancer for eight years. Cotton tells WHMI the event's mission means a lot to her and, imagining her friend being able to attend with her adds, " brings tears to my eyes but I know she's here. Her daughter used to live in Howell so I know she's around us everyday."

While the weather made it difficult to hold the party’s usual events, like Zumba and Cardio Drumming on the lawn of the Historic Howell Courthouse, guests still gathered for the parade of the nominated queens and were treated to live vocal entertainment provided by the Livingston Lamplighters. There may not have been as many guests as years past, but those that came still turned out dressed to impress and ready to dance the night away with fellow supporters and survivors.

Kristi Cox, a returning guest, came decked out in a large pink ball gown and a very special sash that has the pictures of women she knows and cares about that have fought breast cancer. Cox began attending the Pink Party in honor of her aunt that died of breast cancer; however this past January Cox's mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Her picture has been added to the sash, near her aunt's picture and Cox's grandma, who had a double mastectomy in the 1950s'. Cox says in two weeks she will be going in for genetic testing to see if she and her mother carry the BRCA gene, which can increase or contribute to breast cancer susceptibility. Cox says, "It's important what we do and I will always participate."

Through the years, the Pink Party has raised over $200,000 for St. Joe’s Cancer Center. Event organizers expect they’ll know how much was raised at this year’s party in a couple of months. (DK)