Paddle and Party for Pink held its annual fundraiser in the Hamptons on Saturday, starting bright and early at 8 a.m. with a paddle board race and ending with a casual evening rager underneath the night sky.
The party took place right on the water of Sag Harbor’s Havens Beach, and raised money — $1.4 million, to be exact — to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Part of that figure came from a raucous auction in which a lunch with Gwyneth Paltrow sold for $55,000. So that’s the going rate for hang time with G.P.
Guests hit the dance floor and dined on snacks from the food trucks surrounding the perimeter of the area — shirtless models circled the party holding a bright pink shotski, offering brave souls shots of espresso booze.
Despite the good cheer and revelry, the story behind Paddle for Pink is a more serious one. Founder Maria Baum discovered paddle boarding was therapeutic and stress-relieving after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy.
“You start at whatever level and speed you’re comfortable with, and then you do a little more, and then a little more,” she said of her experience with the sport. “Some days you feel like you can’t, so you don’t.
“I was a trader on Wall Street before this, and I didn’t ever exercise and I ate like crap,” she added, tearing up. “I didn’t share with my kids when I was going through chemo. I was glad in the morning to just get it out; I would be emotional and crazy and then I’d paddle board and come back so peaceful and calm. My kids saw me doing something physical and outside in nature and they were young enough to not realize what was happening until it was over.”
This year, Lilly Pulitzer came on as a lead sponsor of the event. Nearly all the guests — save a few city kids who didn’t switch up their usual all-black getups — were decked out in the bright pinks, yellows and neon oranges synonymous with the label. The brand decorated the cushion covers, poufs and bar in loud prints, and had a company print artist painting live at the entrance.
Chief executive officer Michelle Kelly attended in a bright yellow, one-shoulder Lilly dress. She discussed upcoming projects for the company, which include two store openings in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island center and a shop in Palm Beach, Fla., on Worth Avenue. The bricks-and-mortar difficulties so many companies have experienced were not lost on Kelly, but she said the emotional connection customers have with Lilly Pulitzer brings consumers into the physical stores.
“Our team doesn’t think in channels as much,” she said. “They’re thinking about: our customer starts on her phone, for sure, then may end up in our store, and both of those are really important. But they need to work together.”
More From the Eye: