Published by Steamboat Magazine, 2006, written by Stacey Kramer
Bejeweled bras decorated with dazzling colors, fabrics, textures and sounds – no, this is not the revolutionary new line of Victoria’s Secret elegant lingerie. It’s Bust of Steamboat, the annual fundraiser for the Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project (YVBACP).
Established in 2000 with $6,000 in local donations and an employee grant from AT&T Broadband, the fund helps uninsured and underinsured women to pay for mammograms breast cancer treatment costs and annual wellness exams. The fundraiser was the brainstorm of committee member Kappy Emery. Everyone loved the idea of decorating bras and auctioning them to the highest bidder.
After a close friend’s death from breast cancer at a young age, committee member, Debbie Curd was inspired to do something locally. “There were numerous events regionally and nationally for research but, nobody was doing things locally for money to stay here,” she says about the lack of funds for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association looks for federal funding sources for mammograms and biopsies first, and then the YVBCAP picks up any remaining charges. “The biggest challenge is getting the word out and getting women to ask for the money,” Debbie says.
Figuring that women who cannot afford mammograms also may not have annual gynecological exams, the organization is now covering this expense. “I saw what a financial strain it was for my friend. Prescriptions, procedures and people who didn’t get the biopsies because of the cost,” Debbie says. To apply for funds call Jan Fritz at 879-1632
Continually vying to push up the competition and support the cause, artists have come up with some pretty unusual and ornate creations. In the past stained glass, quilting, pictorial collage, iron work and pottery have been used in the designs. “The heaviest was a working aquarium called Treasure Chest. A bra was decorated with beads and was coming out of an underwater treasure chest with live fish swimming around in it,” Debbie says. “The highest bid we’ve ever seen was at last year’s event in the amount of $3,500!” In fact, last year’s event drew the largest crowd and raised a record $31,000. All of it staying in Routt and Moffat Counties.
Helping to drive up bids and raise money last year, Steamboat Springs radio station KFMU, created a piece that played songs of artists who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Station program director, John Johnston sent a press release about the event to musician Melissa Ethridge who was diagnosed the previous year at age 44. She responded with an autographed electric guitar to auction at the event.
The committee is always seeking artists to complete projects using any variety of medium ms. Local businesses or individuals sponsor an entry and partner with artists to collaborate their artistic ideas. At the end of the evening the bra that receives the most votes by way of dollars - $1 equals 1 vote - is awarded the “Bust of Show”.
The Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project (YVCAP) was established in 2000 for women of Routt and Moffat counties to prevent or treat breast cancer, which means all the money raised stays in the community.