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Craft Store Owner Uses Her Creative Skills to Fund BCRF’s Researchers

By BCRF | February 10, 2020

To honor a close friend who died of breast cancer, April Barnes has thrown a pink party for her community that has raised more than $20,000 for breast cancer research over the last decade.

For the tenth year in a row, April Barnes made her O’Fallon, Illinois-based store, Three Sisters Crafts, as pink as possible for a fundraising party that raised more than $3,500 for BCRF.

“I love parties and I’m a pretty good hostess, so I love doing it,” Barnes said. “It’s a way of making a little bit of difference in my community.”

At the Three Sisters Annual Pink Party, held this past Saturday, guests sipped on pink punch and ate pink, cherry-flavored cookies, made pink- and pink ribbon-themed crafts and heard from speakers who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Games like “breast cancer bingo” aimed to educate.

“Instead of calling out letters and numbers, we asked a question about breast cancer and people looked for the answer on their cards,” Barnes explained. “We gave them the answer in order to improve their knowledge of the disease.”

While her yearly party is a lot of fun (and Saturday’s event was no exception), Barnes was inspired to create the event following a somber life event: the death of her close friend Pat McKelvey—who she calls “my heart and soul”—from breast cancer 15 years ago.

“We hadn’t actually known each other for very long, but she was one of those people you click with right away,” Barnes said. “She was always trying to remind me to slow down because there was more important stuff than working all the time. I was really devastated to lose her.”

Rather than hold the event during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Barnes chose February “when everything is pink” in her store for Valentine’s Day. Every year, friends and members of the community help her organize the party, make refreshments, and obtain raffle prizes ranging from hot pink Tupperware to box-seat tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals game.

The pink party is always well attended, and Barnes often surpasses her fundraising goal. Even people who can’t come to the event still make donations—and they’re often larger than the party’s $20 entry fee.

Her most cherished participants, she said, are breast cancer survivors—and her friend Pat’s widow.

“At first I’d hesitated to tell him that I’d created the pink party in Pat’s honor because I wasn’t sure how he’d take it,” she said. “But he was really touched, and he makes a big donation every year. He always comes to the event with his granddaughters, who have a great time and understand that everything that’s going on is for their grandma.”