4th Annual James Party – Raising Money for Two Special Organizations

4th Annual James Party

Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 5, 2017 when the 4th Annual James Party will be held from 5-8 pm at the Coronado Cays Yacht Club.  The fundraiser dinner will be held in honor of James Shirey, a 14 year old Coronado resident who passed away on January 10, 2009 from acute adrenal crisis brought on by the flu.

Background:  James Richard Shirey, Jr.


When James was just four and a half years old, he was diagnosed with Congenital Adrenal Hyperlasia, a very rare condition which his parents were unaware could be life threatening. After James’ unexpected passing, his grieving parents, Jim and Sue Shirey, became involved with the CARES Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of families and individuals affected by Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH). They not only wanted more information about why James was taken too soon, but they sought support for helping their younger son Matthew, who was also diagnosed with the same set of genetic conditions that limit the adrenal glands’ ability to make certain vital hormones. What happened to James, Sue says, “caused us to learn a lot about the condition that we thought was just something you took a pill for, and that was it.”

James Shirey
James Shirey, a Coronado resident who passed away when he was just 14 years old, will be remembered at this year’s 4th Annual James Party, which raises money for the CARES Foundation and Young Life. (Courtesy of Sue Shirey)
Sue & James Shirey
Sue and James together in Disneyland a week before he passed away suddenly in 2009 (Courtesy of Sue Shirey)

“James was a very spirited child, an amazing kid,” says Sue Shirey. While it’s been eight years since James passed, his memory is still very much a part of the Shirey family, and James’ mom finds great comfort in talking about her oldest son. “James was always the loudest kid in the room,” she recalls. “He was funny and sensitive, and had a big, big personality. When he left us, there was a huge hole in our lives.”

Sue, who reminds people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one that “it’s okay to grieve,” remembers with a warm smile how James led such an incredible life before he was taken too soon. “My husband sold his business in 2000 so we were retired for ten years. We got to have some magnificent experiences with our kids . . . Catalina in the summers, and we took them to Europe. We made such wonderful memories with the kids. In hindsight it’s amazing because both boys got to have their Dad around when they were little. I look back on it, and feel so blessed that we got to spend such quality time together as a family.”

The Shirey Family
The Shirey Family: Jim, Sue, James, and Matt (Courtesy of Sue Shirey)

The Annual James Party – Raising Money for the “CARES Foundation” and “Young Life”

After joining the CARES Foundation, Sue became the Southern California Support Group Leader. “CARES asks everybody to do a fundraiser, and I decided I wanted to do something to remember and honor James.”  That’s when the Annual James Party was launched. “It’s been a blast, and it’s grown every year, which is crazy,” Sue says.

In addition to donating money to the CARES Foundation, the Annual James Party also contributes money to Young Life, a non-denominational Christian ministry that reaches out to adolescents through volunteers, staff, club meetings, and camps.

The Shirey Family
Matt, Jim, and Sue Shirey. According to Sue, Young Life helped Matt begin the healing process after his only brother passed away unexpectedly. (Courtesy of Sue Shirey)

When Matt was a junior in high school, Young Life came to Coronado, and Matt was one of the first kids to become involved with it. What started out as a small group of about twenty young people quickly blossomed into over one hundred kids. Sue explains, “At first he was kind of skeptical about joining Young Life because he was pretty mad at God after James died. A specific leader lit the spark in him.” Through Young Life, Matt, who was only eleven years old when he lost his brother, began the healing process, and became an active member of the group, attending club activities on Monday nights as well as small group meetings at other points in the week. “They make it fun, and they make it relevant to kids. They help kids apply the lessons to their own lives. The leaders, who are usually not much older than the kids themselves, spend their own free time interacting with these kids,” Sue says of the youth group.

Matt, now a nineteen year old college student who’s planning on studying finance, is still active with Young Life. He volunteers his time by working with and mentoring high school students involved with Young Life, making an impact on their lives.

Through the Annual James Party website, people can purchase tickets to attend the event, make donations to the CARES Foundation, and make donations to Young Life Coronado. Additionally, through the Annual James Party website, people can fund a camper, donating $300 to send a student to a Young Life camp.

The 4th Annual James Party

This year’s 4th Annual James Party is a casual event with a buffet dinner, live music, a silent auction, and a live auction.

The CARES Foundation encourages people “to raise a couple hundred bucks,” Sue says, but she and Jim surpass their own expectations year after year thanks to the Coronado community. “This community is incredible, absolutely amazing! People here are so generous, and it makes me tear up,” Sue says.

James Party
A photo from last year’s silent auction at the Annual James Party (Courtesy of Sue Shirey)
Sue & Jim Shirey
Sue and Jim Shirey at last year’s Annual James Party (Courtesy of Sue Shirey)

Last year’s Annual James Party raised $44,000 with 187 people in attendance. “I would love to hit $50,000 this year,” Sue says. “It would be incredible! The first year we raised $11,000, then $32,000, and then $44,000. Each year I am blown away by this community!”

Sue is so grateful to the Coronado Cays Yacht Club, who makes it possible each year for the Shirey family to host this party in honor of their late son. “It’s so beautiful down there that it’s easy for me to keep it simple in terms of the decorations,” Sue says of this year’s upcoming party.

James Party
The live auction at last year’s Annual James Party (Courtesy of Sue Shirey)

In the meanwhile, Sue is encouraging people to purchase tickets to this year’s event, which she promises will be even better than last year’s party. Tickets cost $45. “It’s a way to remember James. I do a little spiel talk about the two organizations we’re helping, but each year I also have the opportunity to share a story or two about my James. It’s healing to remember him, and give back,” she says.

It means the world to Sue that James’ friends, including his best friend, still remember James. Many of them, along with their parents, attend the Annual James Party, which Sue says is “huge.” She shares that James’ best friend, who still lives on their street, will often bring Sue flowers on James’ birthday each year. “It means a lot to me,” she says.

Some members of Young Life at last year’s party (Courtesy of Sue Shirey)

Many of Matt’s Young Life friends, who will be playing live music during the silent auction, will also be in attendance. “It’s just a fun event with such a diversity of ages of people from our community,” Sue explains. She continues, “It’s lively, and the party always has such a great energy to it. I love it. James would too.”


Sponsorship and Auction Donations

Donors from the Third Annual James Party (Courtesy of Sue Shirey)

To inquire about sponsorship and/or auction donations, contact Sue Shirey at:

Mobile: (619) 666-2374

email:  sueshirey92118@gmail.com

website: https://squareup.com/store/James-Party 

Sue is still actively seeking additional sponsorship for the 4th Annual James Party.

The three levels of sponsorship, as listed on the 4th Annual James Party website, include:

  • Platinum Level:  $2,500 (Reserved Table for 10, Your Logo on all of our correspondence, social media and promotional materials in addition to being prominently displayed at the event plus special recognition on night of event)
  • Gold Level:  $1,500 (Logo on all of our correspondence, social media and promotional materials in addition to being prominently displayed the night of the event and special recognition on night of event.)
  • Silver Level:  $500 (Logo on all of our correspondence, social media and promotional materials in addition to being prominently displayed the night of the event.)

Sue is also seeking additional live auction and silent auction donations. While all donations, big and small, will be graciously accepted, she’s especially hoping for donations that involve experiences, such as use of timeshares, hotel stays, golf outings, tickets to an upcoming event, etc.

The live auction at last year’s 3rd Annual James Party (Courtesy of Sue Shirey)



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Coree Cornelius
Resident, Educator, Military Spouse, and Mother."I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list." - Susan Sontag.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com