Breast cancer survivors and their family and friends unleashed their creative juices to make artistic masterpieces for a good cause.
Creative Cups, or ordinary bras turned into works of wearable art, are to be auctioned off at Adelphi University March 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. to benefit the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program.
As many Long Islanders know, the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program has been helping women, and men, with breast cancer and their families through free services for nearly 30 years. It is supported by major fundraising efforts but relies on a yearly $300,000 state grant to stay afloat. The grant, which the program has relied on for more than two decades, has been completely eliminated from Governor David Paterson's budget.
Adelphi alum Beth Tenser, a graphic artist who now lives in Baltimore, first brought the Creative Cups idea to Hillary Rutter's attention. Rutter serves as director of the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program.
"Creative Cups has touched off something wonderful in many people. They took so much time creating something special and we are delighted with the beauty and wit that is expressed," Rutter said.
The bras were made by mothers, and fathers, grandparents and granddaughters, sisters, nieces, godparents, friends and breast cancer survivors; by children and teenagers, students and teachers, co-workers; sororities, sports teams and art classes all over the country.
Westbury resident Robin Iovino created Tickled Pink, which she dedicated to her mother Bobbi Schneiderman who lost her life to breast cancer in 1989.
"'Your mother would be tickled pink if she could see you today' are the words that I have heard countless times in the past 19 years. Every time that I do I have the very same thought that I did the first time: if only she could. But I like to think of it in a different perspective," Iovino said. "I am my mother's daughter. Nothing can ever change that, not even breast cancer. She has had a hand in everything I am, everything I do, and she always will. So in that sense she will truly never be gone. For I am her voice now and my daughter will be mine."
Tickled Pink, she said, is an expression of joy, pride, accomplishment and even of approval. "We say [tickled pink] with love and admiration. It is a very sweet thing to say and even a cute expression if you really think about it. But what most people don't think of is the road traveled to get to 'tickled pink,'" she said. "'Tickled pink' usually involves hard work, determination, strength and sometimes even courage. I watched my mother impart these qualities every single day of her life to which she added grace, integrity, class and especially humor. So it is now my turn to say that I am 'tickled pink" to have had such a great influence in my life. Though she is gone, her daughter I will always be."
For Shari Zimmerman, who created Early Detection Is the Best Protection, the message hits close to home. During a routine, annual mammogram, Zimmerman's doctor noticed something that didn't seem right. He looked with a huge magnifying glass. It seemed almost odd looking at the film in a dark room with him staring at the picture of my breast with a huge hand-held magnifying glass. But there was something that needed to be seen even closer," Shari said. "I am grateful for what he did see that day. It was so small yet something not to be ignored."
In creating his bra, Drew Zimmerman of Westbury said he set out to "create a visually interesting piece that was not only captivating to the sense of sight but yet also to the sense of touch." The result was la lumiere du jour (light of day). His creation consists of cotton for a soft touchable look along with an "edge" that includes red straps, faux croc skin and black lace. It also includes burnished copper as well as pearls and tassels and is painted lime green color. "The final result of the bra is an edgy, eye-catching tip of the hat to couture design," said Drew.
The Carle Place Eve Chapter of Homemakers Council of Nassau County created a bra designed around the circuit to signify its title Race for the Cure. "Time races by quickly. Most people don't think about how fast time passes unless they are running late for an appointment, have too much to do or know their time is limited. All of us know someone who has been touched by breast cancer. Many have been cured, but there is always the race to find new drugs and treatments, which are needed to cure those cancers which are unrelenting," said a member of the group. "Supporting and funding breast cancer research is extremely important. Competitions and marathons are popular ways to raise money for cancer research. Whether you like to run, swim, ski, ride, skate or walk, racing is fun and involves many people for a greater support. We need people to become more knowledgeable about breast cancer and instill in them the desire to help. Therefore, let's all 'race for the cure.'"
Adelphi University students, faculty, staff and professors also came out in full force for this project as did the university's Student Art League, Dance Team and members of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority. Additionally, Adelphi social work interns (2008-2009) at the Adelphi Breast Cancer Support Program created a bra as did Adelphi Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program employee Jeanne Berkowitz, who chose to create a ceramic leather-look bra, Tough Support, to symbolize a woman's psyche. In total, more than 300 people, working alone or in groups, joined the Creative Cups effort; 247 Perfect Bras have already been created.
Hailing from all over New York, including Long Island, Westchester, Ellenville, Rochester, Canandaigua, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Harpursville, Watertown, Manhattan, Astoria, Bronx, Forest Hills, Flushing, Middletown and Scarsdale, six bras were also from Florida, 22 from Maryland, three from Michigan, three from Virginia, two from Pennsylvania, two from Georgia, two from New Jersey, and one each from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Indiana, Nevada, Ohio and Texas.
"This is the first year that we have done this. When we started planning it a year ago, we didn't know that the governor was going to eliminate us from his budget," Rutter said. "So now, instead of helping us to grow, as we have every year, the money raised from this will help us to stay alive. That is why we are hoping that the public will respond by coming to the event and bidding on the bras. And even if they are unable to attend, perhaps they can support us by buying the book that is being produced of all the bras or just making a contribution."
Auction tickets are $50 and $25 for students. For more information or to make a reservation, visit www.adelphi.edu/nysbreastcancer or call 800-877-8077. Please note that tickets will not be mailed. They will be waiting for pickup the night of the event at the registration table.