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Broadway's bras raise money and awareness

TOWNER, N.D. -- I've written a lot of columns about a lot of different things, but this is probably the first column I've written about bras. Yes, bras or brassieres or, as Ellie May Clampett called them in The Beverly Hillbillies television show...

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Taylor, who ranches near Towner, N.D., is an Agweek columnist.

TOWNER, N.D. -- I've written a lot of columns about a lot of different things, but this is probably the first column I've written about bras. Yes, bras or brassieres or, as Ellie May Clampett called them in The Beverly Hillbillies television show, "a store bought, lace-trimmed double-barreled slingshot."

Every year, in Fargo, N.D., the bra becomes the symbol of an event to raise money for people in the area fighting breast cancer. This is the ninth year of the annual event held at the Hotel Donaldson in downtown Fargo.

You'll recognize the place during the last week of October. It'll be the three-story building with the strings of donated bras covering it from top to bottom. They call it "bra garland," and it does add a festive flair to the hotel, restaurant and lounge.

The big event takes donations and auctions bras that have been made into works of art by local artists. Teams raise money for those fighting breast cancer throughout October and the kick off event is called a "Brazaar." Being a bit of a wordsmith, I appreciate the catchy play on words.

I went to the family friendly Brazaar. I met a couple friends there who fought the formidable foe we call breast cancer and won. The one really good friend to my wife and I just finished her battle and rung the bell at the clinic that declared her cancer-free. What a sweet sound.

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We all know someone who's been diagnosed with breast cancer, encouraged them, prayed with them and sometimes, tragically, mourned for them.

Some of my friends who've faced the battle seem so young to be confronted with a diagnosis that forces them to think of things that a young person ought not to have to consider. For those of us on the sidelines, we are called to consider how we can help -- help with young children whose mother might not feel well enough to do the normal, caring things they've always done; how to be helpful to a spouse or other family member facing challenges of their own as they get down in the trenches to help their partner battle through the tough days.

The "Bras on Broadway" event raised $150,000 last year from men and women alike committed to helping our friends and neighbors who are taking on breast cancer.

They distributed the funds as gas cards for the patients who find themselves driving back and forth for their treatments and appointments. In a rural state like North Dakota, the distances can be great and the costs substantial.

Having help to put gas in the tank removes one worry as they face everything else with their family, doctors, treatment regimen, insurance company and issues with work, career and home.

So at the Brazaar, there's music, food, information and bras -- lots of bras. When you go, you can pick up a donated bra, and then decorate it with any manner of paint, jewels, foam characters, pipe cleaners, glitter and lots of other bedazzlers.

Mine was donated by our friend, and since my wife and I are ranchers, I decorated it with an agricultural theme -- golden wheat color, green glitter grass and some little foam farm scene characters.

I'm not sure if mine will be auctioned or strung up as bra garland, but if you're bidding you'll recognize it by the bright yellow sun I painted to shine on the farm scene.

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May the sun always shine on our friends and their families who are facing breast cancer. And may we all do our part keep some sunshine in their lives, and some gas in their tank.

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