For the 25th year, October celebrates National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means stores and businesses display a little pink in support for curing this disease. Month long events are planned in an effort to eradicate cancer and those who suffer from it. Taking place at Woodland Hills Mall, the third Annual Gala and Live Auction from Breast Impressions Inc. is one standout event aimed to further the cause.
Breast Impressions Inc. is a Tulsa organization that works to increase breast cancer awareness and fund raising to support breast cancer education, prevention and treatment. The non-profit donates breast casting kits to women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, to make a memory prior to surgery.
The Center for Disease Control reported in 2005 (the most recent year statistics are available) that breast cancer was number seven in the top 10 causes of death among women. In that year alone, more than 40,000 women died from the disease (as well as 375 men). It's the most common cause of cancer death in Hispanic women and the second most common cause of cancer death in white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American women. And like so many other diseases, the earlier it's found, the more likely these numbers won't increase.
Although a highly serious subject, the breast cancer awareness events taking place at Woodland Hills Mall on Saturday, Oct. 24 and Sunday, Oct. 25 will actually be a lot of fun. The weekend's events kick off on Saturday night with "Trends and Friends." From 6pm to 8pm in the Dillard's Court (downstairs in front of Dillard's department store), women are asked to wear pink in support of the cause. Drinks and live beats from a DJ will also add to the atmosphere, while select retailers from the mall will offer exclusive discounts. In addition to wine, there will also be signature pink martinis served throughout the evening. This portion of the weekend is free to anyone who wants to participate.
The festivities continue Sunday afternoon at 3pm for the Survivor Fashion Show, which is also held in Dillard's Court and open to the public. The models of the fashion show are 25 breast cancer survivors ranging from age 20 to 76.
When most physicians recommend having mammograms regularly beginning at age 40, it's remarkable that women as young as 20 are battling breast cancer. Judi Grove, founder of Breast Impressions, said changes to our environment--most notably the more hormones women are now exposed to--leads to younger cases of breast cancer.
The fashion show is about celebrating the survivors, who will have hair and makeup done by Woodland Hills retailers like Aveda, Origins and The Body Shop. The models will also wear fall trends by mall retailers like White House Black Market, Lady Footlocker, Cache, Oakley, Coldwater Creek, Ann Taylor Loft, Christopher and Banks, Dillard's, JC Penney, Brighton Collectibles and James Avery.
The big event of the weekend begins at 7pm on Sunday night when the Breast Impressions Gala and Live Auction begins. This is the third annual gala that benefits Tulsa Project Woman, an organization that provides breast health education, no cost mammographies and additional resources to women with no health insurance and limited financial resources.
Judi Grove is excited that this year's event is in partnership with Woodland Hills Mall because it brings the event's attention to such a big audience. But strangely enough, it was a trip to Indiana that made it happen.
Through her work with Breast Impressions, Grove travels the country with roller derby girls, auctioning off breast casts of the derby girls. On Valentine's Day of this year, Grove was in Indianapolis at an event that brought out 4,000 attendees and made news throughout the city. One person who saw the coverage would later transfer to Tulsa and become the marketing director of Woodland Hills Mall.
Grove said Woodland Hills was interested in pursuing more community efforts, including an event for breast cancer awareness. Their Google search brought up Breast Impressions, whereupon the marketing director remembered the Indianapolis event. The bow was tied.
Grove said the Dillard's Court is a pink and black wonderland in preparation for the event. Ticket holders will experience an after-hours dinner (prepared by Escargot's) and drinks and live music performed by Amanda Preslar (known for her Dueling Piano shows at Full Moon Café), Brian Parton and Stephen Lee. Grove said she's most excited about the group's performance of the song "Let's Duet" from the film Walk Hard. For anyone familiar with the film and/or song, it's apparent there's a lively tone for the night's event.
The real draw of the night, however, is the auction of the breast casts. There are 28 casts being auctioned at this year's event, which are displayed throughout Woodland Hills Mall. If you're unfamiliar with the breast casts, they are fairly self-explanatory. A variety of women throughout Tulsa have had a plaster cast made of their breasts and Tulsa artists then decorate those casts. (Check out the article "Saving the Boobs" by Holly Wall at urbantulsa.com.)
Grove said the artists' turnout was impressive again this year. Artists ask to return year after year to do a cast, but Grove said she also likes to choose new young talent so that they can make a name for themselves in Tulsa. The casts' looks are as different as the breasts that helped shape them. This year's breast casts include a variety of paint colors and designs from abstract to scenic and some incorporate elements like collage, string, mosaic tiles, marabou and feathers. And reception of the casts has been impressive.
Each display features Grove's information for tickets and she's had many calls of people viewing the casts and wanting to share with her their own personal story of dealing with breast cancer, from their own battles to those of family members.
The casts will be auctioned off by auctioneer extraordinaire Jay Litchfield. Grove said just watching Litchfield is a show unto itself. Visitors who don't get home with a cast can also purchase the table centerpieces throughout the event. Created by the Daughters of the Revolution, these centerpieces are created from bras.
And if the bidding gets too rich for your blood, visitors who participate in the raffle might not leave home empty handed. In addition to the auction and the centerpiece selling, the raffle's proceeds benefit Tulsa Project Woman. Several mall retailers have donated items for the raffle. Each ticket is $10 and prizes range from $25 to a $500 Coach bag. There will also be a gift card tree in the raffle.
Grove said that this year's event is especially important because the need for Tulsa Project Woman has become even stronger. In today's economy, many women have lost their jobs and their healthcare. The organization has gone from assisting seven women a month to seven women a week. With Tulsa woman needing the organization's help more than ever, every bit counts.
To make tickets affordable, prices have been lowered to $25 this year. Tickets can be purchased at the Breast Impressions Web site, HYPERLINK "http://www.breastimpessions.com"; www.breastimpessions.com. The site also features a slide show of the casts, if you want to pick the one you'll be raising the paddle for. You can find out more information about other events Breast Impression regularly holds as well as a link to Tulsa Project Woman ( HYPERLINK "http://www.tulsaprojectwoman.com"; www.tulsaprojectwoman.com).
And it was Grove who said it best about the weekend's event: Come out to "bid on boobs to save more boobs."
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