Artful Bra Contest benefits Ellis Fischel Cancer Center

Bras were decorated with a range of materials including bacon, fish bowls, birdseed and pom-poms.
Columbia residents gathered Tuesday at the Missouri Theatre to bid on “bra art” and support a breast cancer survivorship clinic at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

The Missouri Theatre stage lit up Tuesday night with a colorful show. The performers donned elaborate costumes ranging from mosaicked glass designs to arrangements of freshly cooked bacon.

The stars of the show were not singers or dancers; they were handcrafted bras.

Hosted by the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, the 2012 Artful Bra Contest reception and silent auction raised money for a breast cancer survivorship clinic at the center.

The clinic allows patients who have completed cancer treatment to follow up with their doctors, get psychosocial referrals, consult with nutritionists and access wigs and breast prostheses, Ellis Fischel guest services coordinator Kristen Fritschie said.

“A lot of times when cancer affects someone’s life it can affect other things,” Fritschie said. “Chemotherapy can make their palate go away, making them less inclined to eat. So cancer survivors often lose a lot of weight.”

Proceeds also benefit mammogram programs at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, Fritschie said.

These programs provide free breast examinations to women who are not able to afford insurance, Fritschie said.

The 66 bras that dangled over the stage were less than the estimated 80 to 100 bras the fundraiser had aimed to receive.

“Although the number of donated bras has decreased, the number of people attending has increased,” Fritschie said. “And the variety of local businesses that are participating has increased as well. It’s not just health care people that are here.”

Joe Machens Toyota, Family First Chiropractic and Boonville Sheet Metal Lc were among the businesses that honed in their creativity to sculpt some highly unique lingerie. While some of the intimates were transformed into scenes of the Lochness Monster and entitled “Mammograms are Nesse-sarie,” other designs included personal details like notes of dedication and encouragement.

“Is it a bird?” stated a tag attached to the metallic bra. “A plane? No! It’s Wonderboobs! A new kind of American heroine who comes to the aid of women fighting breast cancer. She dons her uniforms and goes into the fray and gives cancer a one-two punch. She’s making the world a better place for mothers, wives and daughters. Hopefully one day she can retire from the fight when a cure is found. Until then, hope for the cure.”

Joe Machens drew inspiration for their design from the popular novel “50 Shades of Grey.” The artists of the bra hid behind feathered masks to match their contribution’s theme.

“We had all read the book recently and it brought us all together,” Joe Machens employee Crystal Elliott said.

“We knew women everywhere would get it,” said Ashlei Kemp, another bra designer and Joe Machens employee.

The total amount of money raised by the event has not yet been calculated.

"To date, the annual auction has been able to pull in well over $19,000,” Fritschie said. "Any amount of money we get can really help a lot of people."

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