Part of the intrigue and summertime joie de vivre for guests of the University of Colorado Cancer Center’s annual Dinner in White is guessing the secret location every year. The venue remains a closely guarded secret right up until the day of the Parisian-styled mostly outdoor soirée.
The hospital’s staff, leadership and most generous supporters were on hand to support the Cancer Center’s groundbreaking research and procedures. And, in keeping with a tradition started in France 31 years ago, partygoers are asked to wear white–initially so that the invitation-only dinner companions could find one another in a crowd. This year’s event was held Saturday, August 10, at The Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver’s popular River North Art District.
As in past years, the event has been held at some of Denver’s most popular venues. This year’s event featured a 20-foot-tall white Eiffel Tower, an Arc de Triomphe wall of wine for connoisseurs. A well-dressed and charming Marie Antoinette and colorful and talented mimes also entertained guests throughout the night.
“Each year we try to come up with something new and exciting for our guests,” said Taylor Abarca, co-chair with Linh Nguyen of this year’s Dinner in White event.
Dinner in White raises awareness of the life-saving research, clinical trials, and cutting-edge treatments at the CU Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in the state.
This year’s keynote speaker was former Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks, an outspoken cancer survivor who in 2016 was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare type of cancer, which recurred for him in 2018.
“I love these events,” Brooks said, “because they bring folks together to focus on cancer and how we can defeat it.”
He spoke of enduring emotional and physical challenges with help from his wife, Debi, his family and friends in his battle against the disease. He also acknowledged guests who were currently undergoing cancer treatment and/or are cancer survivors.
Today, Brooks continues his personal mission to raise awareness about the importance of cancer research.
This year’s event sponsors included Eisai, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and UChealth. Similar to the original 1980s Dîner en Blanc in Paris, guests this year had the option to either bring their own picnic dinner or have their meal provided by Relish Catering Company. Guests enjoyed light appetizers, a selection of wine from Infinite Monkey Theorem and various Colorado-brewed beers, and a signature cocktail created by cancer survivor Jimmy Zannon. To complete the meal, an eclectic dessert bar was provided by The Treatery.
The original Dinner in White (Dîner en Blanc) is a worldwide event started in 1988 in Paris in which people gather in a public space and set up a temporary, chic dining area dressed all in white. Today, many similar events span six continents and are held in major metropolitan cities including New York, Singapore, Montreal, Brisbane and other cities.
“It has been amazing to see the Denver community embracing Dinner in White. We have sold out the past two years,” said Abarca. “It is truly such a fun and unique event that raises awareness for the CU Cancer Center. The center is an invaluable resource that serves patients with cancer in our state and beyond.”