9th annual Bras for a Cause in Royal Oak raises thousands for Gilda’s Club

All of the art bra models on stage at the conclusion of the event. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

ROYAL OAK, Mich. — What a wonderful evening! The 9th annual Bras for a Cause charity fundraiser returned to the Royal Oak Music Theatre on Saturday evening. Tens of thousands of dollars were raised to benefit the Gilda’s Club of Metro Detroit.

The evening featured performances by local country/pop/rock musician Jill Jack as well as live and silent auctions. More than 65 art bras were on display in the lobby of the theatre. In addition, eight local restaurants offered samples of their specialties for all to enjoy.

Sixth grader Krysten Kizer with the art bra she designed Wonderland Magic. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Krystan Kizer designed the art bra called Wonderland Magic in memory of her aunt Amy Rauch-Neilson.

“My aunt died of breast cancer when I was seven and I felt like I needed to do this,” the sixth grader said. “I love arts and crafts and I love to paint. I didn’t skip on the details. It says drink me.”

The Survivors Art Bra Fashion Show was the main highlight of the evening. A total of 23 cancer survivors walked on stage one-by-one to show off their art bras. At the end, all of the models returned to the stage at the same time while Walk The Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” played on the speakers.

“It’s such a beautiful event and it’s so emotional,” said attendee Jacqueline LaRocca from Sterling Heights. “I had to choke back the tears first. Gilda’s club is an amazing organization that makes sure that no woman has to face cancer alone. They offer wonderful programming. Any kind of cancer is welcome there.

“I lost my husband last year to lymphoma. Women are taught to do self breast exams but men don’t always think of that. The only way we’re going to be successful is if we don’t keep it private. It brings awareness to breast cancer and the survivors as well.”

There were dozens of silent auction items. Two of them that caught my attention were a wooden chair in the shape of the state of Michigan and a pair of dress pants autographed by Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh. Another silent auction item of note was a “Fuller House” script autographed by the entire cast including Detroit’s own Dave Coulier.

“Bras For a Cause began with the courage of one young woman–Shannon Watson,” said emcee Lori Pinson from Fox 2 News. “Cancer is a devastating disease. I lost my aunt. We’re here tonight in the name of hope to find a cure for the disease.”

Laura Varon Brown, Executive Director and CEO of Gilda’s Club of Metro Detroit, also addressed the crowd.

“Gilda’s Club is the place where people come together,” Brown explained. “We support men, women and children who face cancer. This event for nine years now, is supported by a volunteer committee that is simply amazing. I want to thank Shannon Watson’s family. Shannon passed away after the first event. I want to thank our survivor models. We’ve got nine new models this year. We’ve got a really special young lady tonight about Joan.”

Auctioneer Kenny Lindsay returned as host of the live auction portion of the program. Here are the final donation figures for each of the live auction items:

  • Mackinac Bridge Climb: $3,000
  • “Music Lovers” ticket package: $600
  • “Home Makeover” package: $2,250
  • “Date Nights” package: $2,250
  • “Adventure Awaits” package: $750

Fox 2’s Lori Pinson served as the emcee for this year. She stepped in on short notice as Erika Erickson cancelled for a scheduling conflict.

Mark your calendars for the 10th annual Bras for a Cause event, which will be held on October 13, 2018.

For more information about Bras for a Cause, visit www.brasforacausemi.com.


Sheila Johnson, a two-year breast cancer survivor, modeling “Erin Go Bragh.” (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Jill Jack and her band kicked off the event with her country, pop and rock music. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Chili and cornbread from Cacao Tree Cafe in Royal Oak. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Attendees posing for a photo at the 9th annual Bras For a Cause charity fundraiser. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


An attendee places a bid on an art bra during the silent auction portion of the event. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Another silent auction item was a “Fuller House” script autographed by the entire cast including Detroit’s own Dave Coulier. (Jerome Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Heather Schepperly, a three-year breast cancer survivor, modeling “What Is Your Super Power.” (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


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