Cancer Center holds annual Decorate-A-Bra contest

The bras will be auctioned off, and the money will go to patients at the center.
Snazzily decorated bras hang on display for silent auction at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. The annual Decorate-a-Bra contest raises money for local breast cancer awareness efforts and campaigns.

The Ellis Fischel Cancer Center held its annual Decorate-A-Bra contest Wednesday, raising money for the center's mission to spread breast cancer awareness and to tell the stories of its survivors.

Participants in the contest were given the opportunity to decorate any bra however they desired and with whatever materials were available. They glued Legos to brassieres, created hubcap-like bras of welded metal and told stories of their survival through scrapbook pictures and fragments.

Columbia resident Emily Thoroughbaden said decorating a bra was a different experience than from she had expected from a philanthropy.

"I feel the creativity of the event allowed me to raise awareness about breast cancer in a way that I wouldn't be able to achieve otherwise," Thoroughbaden said. "It drew me closer to the project with my team."

Thoroughbaden, a representative of Atkins Pest Control, said the theme of her bra was determined by her company's products and marketing tools.

"Well, we're an extermination company, so jungles are kind of a part of who we are as a company," Thoroughbaden said. "I kind of just went with that and made something I could say I was proud of in the end."

Columbia resident Louise Beasley, a relative of an Atkins Pest Control employee, said the event was empowering.

"We don't burn our bras anymore, and we take our bras seriously," Beasley said. "Decorating bras puts us in contact with their material nature and connects us with the emotional bond we have with our own bodies."

Beasley said Columbia is a positive environment for such philanthropic events.

"I feel Columbia as a whole is very non-profit driven," Beasley said. "It's a really big deal for Columbia to have something which connects us so closely to women's issues."

Beasley continued to say that Columbia's support does not just come from larger monetary donors.

"People, whether lower or higher in economic status, are active in charitable causes in Columbia," Beasley said. "The bra is an important thing to women, and to have the support of our community in this way is intrinsic to our development as women and as united citizens."

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