3Cs 60th anniversary fashion spectacular

COEUR d’ALENE — The 3Cs have much to celebrate this year.

Officially named Cancer and Community Charities, the group is marking its 60th year of raising funds, and since its inception, 3Cs members have distributed $2.5 million to support those in need in Kootenai County.

Now about 480 members strong, the 3Cs began as a small women’s bowling league in 1962.

That spring, Albertsons was selling beef roasts for .69 cents a pound. Montgomery Ward offered a 12-foot aluminum boat for $159.88 plus the cost of freight. “The Stompers” were scheduled to perform at a “teen dance” in the Coeur d’Alene High School gym, and Johnny Carson was preparing to replace Jack Paar on the Tonight Show.

But fears of cancer were on the minds of several women’s groups in Kootenai County in 1962.

The Worley Cancer Group was hosting a screening of “a cancer film for women only,” titled “Time and Two Women.” A ladies group in Spirit Lake led by Mrs. Elba Davis was launching a cancer fund drive. And Mrs. A.K. Walden, casually known as Ellen, “presented two films on cancer detection.”

Walden was moved to raise money to support local women with cancer. At the time, treatment was only available in Spokane. Walden’s fundraising efforts provided gas money to help these patients.

Walden used her women’s bowling group, the Cancer Crusaders Bowling League as a vehicle to raise money while fellowshipping with friends.

One thing the 3Cs have always done is put the “fun” in fundraising.

A newspaper article published around the time of the 3Cs 25th anniversary says of Walden that she was “tired of going door-to-door to raise funds for cancer research that Coeur d’Alene patients never saw. Walden used her gift of persuasion to talk women into new ways to raise money for local cancer patients, while having fun.”

Today the 3Cs comprise 13 different social groups. Activities range from book clubs, bowling and bridge groups to the Coeur d’Aleer singers and the Crafty Crew.

The concept is simple. Each group has its own cost associated with participation, and a little extra is collected that goes into the fundraising pot.

Five dollars here, $20 there — adds up to a lot.

In 2021 alone, the organization was able to give $103,000 to the citizens of Kootenai County, and 27 carefully chosen charities received needed support.

The 3Cs biggest fundraising event of the year is right around the corner. “My Fair Ladies,” a dinner and spring fashion show will begin at 5:30 p.m., on May 4 at The Coeur d’Alene Resort.

“We’re really in gear this year to get up and running. Everybody’s busting out,” said club member Diane Lawrence. “We’re especially excited since it’s our 60th anniversary. So for this year’s fashion show we want a spectacular celebration.”

Marie Widmyer with Marmalade clothing on Sherman Avenue has curated fashions for the show, for the past several years. Widmyer also includes fashions from other local garment retailers, making the event a true community collaboration.

Professional models are brought in to walk the runway. This year, 25 3Cs members will also strut their stuff.

“Real women of all ages, and all sizes,” said fashion show chair Bobbi Freeman. “It’s very high energy, very bright. The choreography, the music — it’s amazing.”

In honor of the historical period in which the 3Cs was founded, the theme of the fashion show will be “the ’60s.”

Club president Rhonda Newton said their goal this year is to raise at least $30,000 from the fashion show and dinner alone.

The event features several raffles, a silent auction and a spirited emcee in Jonathan Tibbetts. Cocktail hour begins at 5:30 and violinist Diana Clemons will play. The Blazen Divaz dance troupe also has a number planned for the evening.

To get tickets for “My Fair Ladies” call Judy Gardner at 208-664-4604, or send a check for $85 (per person) to: Attn. Judy Gardner, PO Box 1274, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, 83816 and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. It is recommended that tickets be purchased before April 28.