Georgetown County United Way volunteers were looking for a new angle to close the annual fund drive when a sister of one of the committee members suggested a Kentucky Derby theme.
That's how the first Triple Crown Party started last May. It was such a success that the United Way's Event Committee started planning for the second annual party, which is Saturday at the HIA Coastal Conference Center in Pawleys Island.
The committee members were "brainstorming for a new take on an old fundraiser," as Mary Gray Mahon puts it. She is volunteer coordinator for the United Way. She and Lynne Ford, resource development director, are two-thirds of the staff. Patricia Strickland is president and chief executive. The United Way also serves Williamsburg County.
Last year, the party grossed about $13,000 and after expenses and in a more expensive venue than this year, netted about $5,000.
The Georgetown County United Way again this year has a fund drive goal of $450,000, the figure that was achieved last year. Given the economy, the board of directors prudently kept that goal for this year.
Ford says going into May 2009, the campaign was at 85 percent to 87 percent of goal.
This year is a bit off - at 80 percent. On the plus side, sponsors for the Triple Crown Party have been easier to line up than for previous fundraisers. Prior to last year, various kinds of social events were held, such as plantation parties.
Ford says the annual fundraiser used to be combined with a recognition dinner but it was decided that a separate social event attracts more people.
Saturday's second annual Triple Crown Party begins at 5 p.m. and includes heavy hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction, games, music by The Big Time Party Band and of course a live broadcast of the 136th Kentucky Derby.
Brooke Hamilton, who leads the Event Committee, says "the Derby theme is something that can be enjoyed whether you are 25 or 75." Tickets ($75 per person) are available at the United Way office at 515 Front St. in Georgetown and several businesses in Pawleys Island.
The new conference center will accommodate up to 200 people. Ticket sales are going well, Ford and Mahon say, but there's room for more wide-brimmed hats to make Pawleys Island feel a lot like Louisville and Churchill Downs. Mint juleps will be available.