History will typically show you that those who “go out on top” tend to be the most revered, among the longest remembered, and typically those who are treated best in the historical record. If all of that is true, Nicole Heugel’s nine year leadership at the helm of Southwest Michigan’s Little Black Dress event should be fondly remembered for decades to come.
Heugel, who is the Executive Director of Shadowland on Silver Beach presented the largest annual donation to date as a result of 2019’s Little Black Dress event, but also announced that “It will be the last Little Black Dress Party for the foreseeable future.”
The concept began back in 2011, when the Paint Our Towns Pink group was formed by Silver Beach Carousel Society President Susan Schalon. The focus of the group of individuals was to come together to make a difference and an impact on the fight against cancer in Michigan’s Great Southwest by raising both awareness and dollars.
One of the main fundraising events created at that time was Shadowland on Silver Beach’s Little Black Dress party. Under the direction of Nicole Heugel and a group of dedicated volunteers and sponsors, the event has been an annual girl’s night out party for many years. While the focus of celebrating life and raising funds to fight against cancer has remained the same, the food and activities during the event have kept attendees coming back for more in an annual sellout.
This October marked the 8th year over the last nine for the Little Black Dress Party, which went into hiatus in 2018. The 2019 proceeds established a new record for the largest donation to date.
This year’s donation of $16,623 will be split between Berrien County Cancer Services and the Lakeland Foundation for The Marie Yeager Cancer Center. Those funds will stay local and will assist financially with cancer screening and help assist those with cancer with services and products in the community.
To date, Shadowland on Silver Beach has donated $79,000 from the Little Black Dress event. Huegel says that the committee, their volunteers, and sponsors are all “very proud of what has been raised over the last 9 years and truly believe that the funds have made a positive impact on the need for cancer services in our community.” She adds, “This event would not be a success without our generous sponsors, volunteers and attendees. It has definitely been a group effort.”
Heugel says that while it has been a sell out and extremely popular event for many years, they are going to go out on top, saying, “2019 will be the last Little Black Dress party for the foreseeable future.” She and the committee are also offering up thanks to everyone from sponsors, volunteers, to attendees for celebrating life with a little black dress over the last 9 years.
Shown in the photo accompanying this story on Moody on the Market are Rysa Clark , Jasmine Stafford, Nancy Church, Nicole Heugel, Barbara Schmidtman, Susan Schalon, and Regina Ciaravino.