For many years, local philanthropists, artists and volunteers have grabbed glue guns and taken on the role of seamstresses, designers and bra wranglers in hopes of raising money to purchase new equipment and offer services to those undergoing cancer treatment at Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville, TX. Bras for the Cause, now in its 11th year, will display those creations the evening of Thursday, October 10th, in Downtown Greenville. Last year, the event raised over $170,000, with every penny staying right in Hunt County. And volunteers are hard at work making sure this year’s event is a blockbuster with the theme “Hooray for Brallywood.”
More than 100 bras are entered each year, created by women and men, old and young, individuals and businesses. Each entry is a unique masterpiece. The rules are simple: design a bra using any materials and with any theme you desire. The only requests are that the message and design are “G” rated and that the creations on display can be easily moved. Complete instructions and a list of the 2019 movie-related categories are available on the Bras for the Cause Hunt County website: http://B4TChuntcounty.com.
“We refined our name to Bras for the Cause Hunt County this year to better reflect what we do,” said Megan Earls, one of the “Big Boobs” who work hard planning the event. “The Jack and Lou Finney Cancer Center at Hunt Regional Hospital serves patients from throughout the region and our work goes to support that. It seemed like a natural progression as we broaden our vision.”
Bras for the Cause began in 2009 when Greenville businesswoman Janeen Cunningham dreamed of creating a breast cancer awareness event. But she was determined that any funds raised would be put to work at home. She had heard tales of a display of elaborately decorated bras, and that served as a vision for the event. Janeen put a unique twist on things, asking people to pay to vote on their favorite bras. Since then, Bras for the Case Hunt County has raised more than $900,000 for the Hunt Regional Healthcare Foundation. This year, they will cross a landmark in their fundraising when the grand total goes to over $1 million dollars raised.
“When we realized we would reach a total of $1 million raised this year, we all got really excited,” said Lisa Hill, another of the “Big Boobs” leadership team. “That’s a remarkable total for any organization to reach, especially for a rural area. It is a testament to the extremely hard work of the entire community who turn out to make our event a big success every year.”
This year's event will help to fund Janice's Closet, a special fitting room located at Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville which Bras for the Cause Hunt County has supported since founding it in 2010. Recognizing that every woman deserves to feel good about herself during cancer treatment, the room provides compression garments, vouchers for wigs, mastectomy bras, prostheses and more for Hunt County women in need of these services. All items are provided free of charge to referred patients.
In addition to Janice’s Closet, Bras for the Cause also helps fund the Tubby Adkisson Mobile Mammography Coach. Fully equipped for digital mammograms, the coach goes to locations throughout Hunt County and adjoining counties, where mammograms are offered without a referral by a doctor. The coach makes scheduled visits at businesses, churches and other locations, providing early detection of breast cancer to busy women on the go.
Two years ago, Bras for the Cause embarked on its largest project to date. With a price tag of over $500,000, 4D CT imaging makes CT scans faster and more accurate than ever. 4D technology captures the location and movement of a tumor, allowing for breathing patterns, and lets a radiation oncologist deliver targeted radiation that helps preserve healthy tissue and reduces the risk of treatment-related side effects. The equipment was installed in the Lou and Jack Finney Cancer Center in 2018 and is helping to save lives and make radiation treatment more comfortable. Bras for the Cause made a 5-year pledge to cover the expense of the machine but expects to pay it off after this year’s event which is two years ahead of schedule.
On October 10th, the night of this year’s event, bras will be displayed in several locations along Lee Street in Downtown Greenville from The Texan Theater to Landon Winery, beginning at 6:00 pm. Clever titles and creative materials are the hallmarks of the exhibit, driving hundreds of people to flock Downtown to see the display and cast their votes for $1 per vote. Attendance is free, and participants may purchase vote cards from the volunteers along the street. Shameless campaigning for votes by participants, many wearing crazy hats or costumes and carrying colorful signs, adds to the carnival-like atmosphere. Voting is open until 8:30 and the awards ceremony begins around 9:30. “BRAbie” Awards are presented to the top money-raising bras, and also to category winners selected by a panel of judges. The top sponsor is also recognized.
There is no charge to enter a bra or to attend the event. Money is raised through individual and corporate sponsors, votes and merchandise sales. Several Downtown restaurants, bars and wineries also participate in the event, offering special menus and live music to add to the atmosphere. A percentage of all food and beverage sales is donated to Bras for the Cause. And, just as Janeen had planned, every penny stays in the community, working to detect cancer and help those undergoing treatment.
Whether you’d like to find out how to get involved in the event, how to become a sponsor, get started with your own bra creation, or anything else, Bras for the Cause would love to hear from you. You can message them through their Facebook page: Bras for the Cause Hunt County, call or text at 903.456.2257, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.