While October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, has come to a close, the effort to raise money for the cause never ends. That is something that Krista Robitz can attest to, she sees it daily.
The director of development for the Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation sees the organization’s work as it raises money directly benefiting the hospital’s programs in Brunswick and in Camden.
“The Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit and we support mission of the health system,” she said. “All the monies remain local and stay right here in our community.”
In order to raise those dollars, they host a number of fundraisers. The largest, the Southeast Georgia Health System’s Bridge Run, will be held in February. But its second largest just wrapped up, the ARTrageous Bras.
The event, which has been held for several years, allows individuals, businesses or health system team members a chance to create their own bra designs with special themes for a fundraising contest.
“The ARTrageous Bras are the foundation’s fundraiser for breast cancer awareness and the cancer care programs at the health system. It takes place each October. For a $25 donation, you receive a plain, solid white bra, then they come up with a theme and a choice design,” Robitz said.
Participants let their creative juices flow from mid-August, when the contest opens, until the end of September. Robitz said those who compete never disappoint.
“They get very creative ... really the sky is the limit with the creativity. They use all sorts of materials from tin to feathers to baseball gloves to tissue paper,” she said.
Once the bras are returned to the health system, they are put on display for the month. Those who come to the hospital are allowed to pay a $1 donation to vote for their bra of choice, either in Brunswick or in Camden County. Robitz said this year there were 29 unique designs, which certainly made it tough for voters.
“It really is so much fun and as far as the designs ... we have no idea what is going to be returned. Every year, it gets more and more creative and once the bras are returned, we are always surprised,” she said.
“Of course, Irma had an impact and we didn’t have as much participation as we have had in the past but we had more sponsors this year which was fantastic.”
Once October was over, the bras were removed from the hospitals’ galleries and taken to events where the final winners were chose. The foundation also hosted its first ever live and silent auction for Camden County participants.
The top winners of the silent auction moved on to the live auction and were modeled by locals.
“In Camden, the first-place bra was titled Pretty in Pink by Parker and Pennington Dentistry. That one raised over $1,600 in $1 votes,” Robitz said.
“In Brunswick, Save the Sweets won and it was covered in candy. That one was created by Larry Bryson Architecture.”
But there were many notables, she adds. Troy University incorporated the popular fidget spinners for its design.
“Their theme was Soaring Towards a Cure and it had an airplane with the fidget spinners. It was so cute,” she said.
“The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is an annual participant. They won second place. It was an Irma themed bra. We had a few of those. The Brunswick Woman’s Club had a Rock Cancer Like a HER-icane. So hurricanes were on people’s mind after Irma for sure.”
All of that work paid off, raising $13,000 for the organization.
“We are thrilled. With that money, we support the cancer program through educational materials. We give cancer patients cancer backpacks as soon as they are diagnosed,” she said.
“Those are full of supplies for their journey through chemotherapy and radiation. We also have bought flat screen TVs for the patients and vibrating recliners for those in chemotherapy.”