May we have your bra? “Hooking up” to fight cancer!

Part of the Bra-Line hung out in the rain at the Relay For Life in Lockport

Part of the Bra-Line hung out in the rain at the Relay For Life in Lockport

The braline first showed up at the Barker Farmer's Market, alongside a raffle to raise money for the Relay For Life.

The braline first showed up at the Barker Farmer's Market, alongside a raffle to raise money for the Relay For Life.

Yes, those zany Soda Jerks have come up with yet another clever fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, and it involves talking women out of their bras! Here is an excerpt from my Friday Spotlight column in the US&J with the details. I’ve also added a “Mammary Mile” category so you can click on it for updates as we expand the line!


            Some people will do anything to get noticed or to draw attention to their favorite cause. This week’s Spotlight shines on Carol Ander and Thee Barker Soda Jerks, who have added a new project to their successful fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society.

            If you stop by Thee Barker Store on Main Street in the little Village of Barker, you’ll find some of the friendliest folks you ever want to meet. Manager Carol Ander and clerks Lori Jenks, Darleen Platt and Nancy Liuzzi will help you find anything you need and then, chances are, they’ll ask you for your bra. The latest cancer awareness project by The Barker Soda Jerks Relay For Life team is the making of “The Mammary Mile.” The group is “hooking up to fight cancer” by connecting bras and the goal is to reach one mile by next May.

            Each contributor donates $5 to the American Cancer Society, along with a bra that is signed by the donor. Some are dedicated in honor of someone who has battled breast cancer or cancer of any kind. The bras are hooked end to end and it is estimated that it will take 2,500 bras to make the mile and beyond. If the project is successful, they will have raised  $12,500 for cancer research, education, patient programs and advocacy but the bigger goal is to draw attention to the continuing fight against cancer.

            The team chose the Mother’s Day Breast Cancer Canal Walk in Lockport as the target unveiling of the Mammary Mile, stretched out along the bank of the Erie Canal. Both the Canal Walk and the Relay For Life are annual events that mobilize the community to celebrate survivorship and join in the fight against cancer. Rebecca Kelly Florio and husband Jack of Micro Graphics are helping to design a huge vinyl banner that will be displayed at various venues as the bra drive continues, and will be the focal point of the unveiling. After the Canal Walk, the Mammary Mile will make its way to the 10th annual Relay for Life in Lockport, where participants walk many miles overnight in support of the cause.

While some people are a bit shy of baring their unmentionables in public, many have embraced the challenge. Team member Sue Tesch has already had bras mailed to her from out-of-town relatives and there is a collection box at the store. Ander is so enthusiastic and persuasive that she has actually had customers remove their bra in the store’s restroom to donate. “We can’t be embarrassed about doing whatever it takes to draw attention to the cause,” said Ander. “We should be embarrassed about the number of people in this country who don’t have access to cancer screenings for early detection and the number of people without health care.”

The bra-line has made an appearance at the Barker Farmer’s Market and was strung up in the rain at the Relay For Life. From sturdy white cotton to frilly bright colors, each bra represents the heart of a person who has been touched by cancer; men, women and children alike. “People can donate one of their own bras or pick one up at a sale somewhere if it’s less intimidating,” said Jenks. “What matters is that one more person has signed on to join the fight against cancer.” The gals expect people to get creative as the entries continue to come in, but warn that the bra-line will be hung out in any kind of weather, so any writing needs to be done in fabric paint, stitching or permanent marker. Signatures and messages are left up to the donor but anything not family-friendly will be politely rejected.

Coming up on August 20 is Cruise’n Music Night on Main Street in Barker, in conjunction with the weekly Farmer’s Market. The Soda Jerks will be there with their bra-line, ready to collect and add more feet of elastic and lace to the line they hope will be 5,280 feet long by May 2010. Other displays are being planned and the progress will be charted at Bras may be dropped off at the store or mailed to 8671 Main St. PO Box 465, Barker NY 14012 with the $5 donation. Make checks payable to the American Cancer Society. You can also send a $10 check and the team will purchase a bra and sign it for you. Please enclose your desired signature/message with the check.

The Soda Jerks have been a part of the Relay since it began in Barker in 2001 and have raised money in a lot of clever ways. They are hoping this mammoth project will garner support from people beyond the local community. “We don’t have 2,500 hundred women in our town but the Relay family reaches far and wide and we know there are thousands of people out there who have been touched by cancer. We’re sure they will hook up with us to make this statement. We will never give up the fight,” said Ander. 


So, what are you waiting for? Get your unmentionables sent to us and then join us next year (or sooner) when we can all walk the mile and read the many hundreds of tributes and supporter’s names!

Stay tuned for our “Cele BRA ties” Challenge! 🙂


One Response to “May we have your bra? “Hooking up” to fight cancer!”

  1. Jack Says:

    Great idea. You all know how worthwhile and meaningful that Relay for Life events are, but for some added inspiration and perspective, check out this short video — — about one volunteer’s “aha moment” when she realized the impact of Relay for Life. Hope you enjoy it.


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