Mad Hat-ter Tea Party to raise funds against cancer

Mad Hat-ter Tea Party to raise funds against cancer

CHAMPAIGN — Gretchen Potter's many hats once kept her granddaughters entertained, and now they'll be put to use helping raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Potter, of Champaign, has 500 hats, and she'll be bringing 50 of them to the society's Mad Hat-ter Tea Party fundraiser set for Sunday at Big Grove Tavern, 1 E. Main St., C.

Tickets are available for $10 in advance and $15 at the door for two tea parties that afternoon, at 12:30 and 3:30.

Both will feature tea and coffee, sandwiches, dessert, a fashion show and Potter's hats modeled by Girl Scouts and cancer survivors, said Champaign County Relay for Life chairwoman Jill Rannebarger.

Relay for Life is a major American Cancer Society fund- raiser held in June. All proceeds from the tea-party fundraiser will also benefit the society, Rannebarger said.

Potter said her hat collection started with three hats she borrowed from a neighbor to keep her visiting granddaughters from being bored.

Then she became hooked on collecting hats, she said.

Over 15 years, she's accumulated a roomful of them, with some dating back to 1896, she said.

But Potter doesn't just keep her hats stored away. She loads them up in her car and puts on about 20 hat shows a year, she said.

"I decided I needed to give back to the community," she said.

This will be her first time taking her hats out to benefit the American Cancer Society, she said.

She and Rannebarger became acquainted through Rannebarger's Girl Scout troop, she said.

"Her troop and my hats did a lot of hat shows," she said.

Then, Potter said, her own brother died of cancer recently.

The tea party Sunday will also feature a fashion show by Dress Barn and Maurice's, Rannebarger said.

A photographer will be on hand, and there will also be a raffle conducted for several items, she said.

In addition to individual ticket sales, table sales are available for $35 for a table of four, $50 for a table of six, and $70 for a table of eight.

Tickets are available through Dress Barn, or those interested can call Rannebarger for at 979-1504 or email her at

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asparagus wrote on February 05, 2013 at 11:02 am

Well, well. Now we are making a mockery of cancer victims by throwing a tea party with funny hats. This is simply disgusting. How dare these people gather with their hats for one meal and think that they are actually doing anything to solve the problem of cancer.  Cancer is a painful and heart wrenching disease. People lose their hair very often during treatment and are often forced to wear a wig or hat to maintain their appearance.  Wearing a funny hat and sipping tea while cancer victims suffer all over the world is an intolerable act of self-indulgence. Shame on these people and shame on the American Cancer Society for trying to find fun and entertaining ways to bring awareness to their cause. The plight of cancer sufferrers should not be belittled by such outrageous mockery of balding cancer patients.


Gabby wrote on February 05, 2013 at 6:02 pm

This is not self indulgence this is not be-littleing this is raising money and awareness to help fight cancer. Should we hold fund raisers at funerals because it is a sad time.

Look around and see all the different ways money is raised for cancer every one of them involves some sort of fun activity.

Sorry you have lost a loved one to cancer. I too have just lost my brother and a very dear friend all in the same week. Every human has been touched by cancer and everyone knows what cancer does to the body.

I think your comment is shameful and self indulgent.

asparagus wrote on February 05, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Hi Gabby,

My wife said my post would not be realized as being sarcastic. I guess she was right.


The Woody Vegetable


Bulldogmojo wrote on February 07, 2013 at 12:02 pm


SaintClarence27 wrote on February 06, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I'm guessing you don't know Gretchen Potter, or her medical history.

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 06, 2013 at 12:02 pm

And, more to the point, there are actual cancer survivors modeling the hats, rather than people pretending to have cancer for a night, as if that were representative at all of the actual situation of the sufferers.

asparagus wrote on February 07, 2013 at 9:02 am

And even more to the point is that those people that participated in the homeless charity event were not pretending to be homeless either.  How do you know there were not former homeless participants at that event? Your reasoning continues to fall short. Please try again.

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 07, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Then why were they sleeping in boxes?

LocalWoman wrote on February 05, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Thank you Mrs. Potter for donating your time and collection as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.  I wish that my daughter and I could attend but I will be recovery from cancer surgery.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was impressed with how much help the American Cancer Society offered.  Not only do they fund research, but also directly benefit local patients with timely and practical help.  Among some of the benefits I received are:  scarves, hats, and wigs while I received chemotherapy, gas cards to pay for fuel during those six and a half weeks of daily radiation, finding a grant to cover the $600 copay of a medication, connecting me with another young patient for emotional support, providing educational materials and personal supplies, organizing volunteer drivers, facilitating my Look Good Feel Better session, etc.

I am truly grateful for Mrs. Potter's support.  I've friends who've had hat parties during treatment and I think combining this with a tea party is a great idea!

sweet caroline wrote on February 05, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I join Gabby and LocalWoman in praising Gretchen for sharing her hat collection at the cancer fundraiser.  A tea party is just one of the many themes the American Cancer Society comes up with to raise money for research.  How refreshing!