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Pink Party cancer fundraisers are coming to a close

Elyse Walker’s annual Pink Party has raised more than $10 million for Dr. Beth Karlan and the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai.

Walker created the fun, fashion-filled fundraiser to honor her mother, Barbara Feter, who died of ovarian cancer at age 42.

The event grew out of a party she hosted at her store with Jennifer Garner more than a decade ago. Together, the two raised $10,000 in a single Saturday morning for women’s cancer research.

“I saw how easy it was,” Walker says.

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So in September 2005, she held the first official Pink Party at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica.

“The store was doing really well, and I knew I would never have been in this whole thing if it wasn’t for my mom. So it was a way of honoring her.”

At that first Pink Party, she raised $566,000 and hosted 500 guests. Since then, the event has grown to include nearly 1,000 guests at Santa Monica Airport, celebrity hosts, a runway fashion show and an auction of high-end accessories and travel experiences.

But this year’s Pink Party — which is to be hosted by Walker, Garner and celebrity fashion stylist Rachel Zoe on Oct. 18 — will be the last.

“After 10 years of asking people for money, I feel like I have saturated my asks,” Walker says. “People avoid me at the grocery store, and I understand why.”

She will serve on the advisory board for a similar event that the Basser Center is getting off the ground in New York City, which will raise money not only for women’s cancer research but for research of the BRCA gene that, it has been discovered, affects people’s chances of developing cancers.

“To have people say they attended or read about our event and called their doctor the next day to schedule a mammogram is amazing,” Walker says. “But I’m starting a new chapter in my business. [Online business] Forward is growing fast, and I just started two wholesale lines. ... I’d like to work on them all.”

Pink Party, Oct. 18 at Santa Monica Airport. Tickets start at $1,500. Info: www.pink-party.org/2014/home

booth.moore@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter: @booth1


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