When Killingsworth resident Jill Granucci took the runway on Thursday evening, sporting the “Royal Boobies” bra designed by Joan Aceto, the audience of nearly 500 people broke out with a combination of laughter and cheers.
The puppet-covered bra was creative enough to raise $450 towards breast cancer treatment and was one of 28 to make the runway show during Art Bra 2012, a fundraiser hosted by After the Storm Inc. at .
The display, and wild reaction from the crowd, was just what co-organizer and cancer survivor Christine Willett had in mind when she helped design the first Art Bra show in 2009, a way of raising money for various integrative cancer treatment.
“This is my favorite events of the year,” said Willett, a Middlefield resident, on Thursday. “Last year we were able to raise $23,000 for cancer treatment and we are hoping that with our largest turnout yet, we hope to raise even more than that this year.”
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The annual show has become a staple fundraising event for After the Storm Inc., a group breast cancer survivors and family members, and is one of several held each year, Willett said. Proceeds of the event are given back to local hospitals and cancer centers to assist with integrative treatment necessary to help survivors not only overcome the disease, but live a full life.
Willett was diagnosed just before the birth of her second son and without the integrative treatment, which includes massage therapy and other methods to counter chemotherapy, she said she wasn’t sure she would have survived.
“After my recovery, I decided it would be my mission to raise money to donate back to hospitals and cancer centers,” she said.
The success of the show in recent years has helped raise enough funds to assist over 200 patients of Middlesex Cancer Center over the past year alone, according to center director Connie Branyan.
“A cancer diagnosis is not just a physical diagnosis. It’s a battle and with these contributions and the help provided by groups like After the Storm, we are able to help hundreds every year beat this diagnosis,” Branyan said.
But with success comes the need for change as well. The first three shows were held at the River House in Haddam but with the show selling out last year, the group needed a bigger location. Management with the Aqua Turf immediately stepped in to provide a larger venue, Willett said.
The show featured 28 bras on the runway in 2012, modeled by eight women who have been directly affected by cancer themselves, and offered residents a chance to buy there favorite themed bra. An additional 27 bras were displayed and raffled off as part of the event as well.
“No one should be without this kind of treatment. It can mean all the difference in the battle against the disease,” Willett said.
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