This past Friday evening, the Bra Couture KC held its sixth annual gala, an event that features the auctioning off of work-of-art bras created by local Kansas City artists in order to support uninsured and underinsured cancer patients who have been touched by all cancers.
Over 1,200 guests watched as models displayed 19 bras during a live fashion show. Fashion show models consisted of local Kansas City breast cancer survivors and current patients, all dressed in themed, art-based costumes.
After experiencing breast cancer herself, the founder and executive director of Bra Couture KC, Sharon Butler Payne, wanted to aid patients within her own community in Kansas City.
“We originally were working exclusively with University of Kansas, but we wanted the opportunity to reach across the whole city and serve to reach a larger population of uninsured cancer patients,” Payne said. “We are very proud that every dollar raised in Kansas City stays in Kansas City.”
Chiefs Ambassadors, including Chiefs Hall of Famer Bobby Bell, former Chiefs linebacker Anthony Davis and former Chiefs tight end Keith Cash led by Walter White were in attendance, along with Bra Couture KC advocates and two special runway escorts, current Chiefs wide receiver
“We have been blessed to have Dustin and Jeremy at our event, and this year was the first year Chiefs Ambassadors got involved,” Payne said. “I'm very honored to have the Kansas City Chiefs involved to the degree that they are.”
Maclin explained how important it is to him that his role as a Chiefs player extends beyond the white lines.
“It’s not just what you do on the field, it’s what you do off the field as well,” Maclin said. “We don’t do it for attention. We don’t do it for praise. We do it because these types of things mean something to us.”
Colquitt and Maclin, in a way, took on the role as cheerleaders to support former Chiefs cheerleader and breast cancer survivor Brandy Reed, who made her debut on the Bra Couture KC runway.
“She's supported us on Sundays when she was a cheerleader, and it’s one of those things where we're glad to do it for her and for all of these girls,” Colquitt said. “It’s that more important because we share a field on Sundays. So that means even more to me. I know the amount of time she puts in and how big of a deal they are in the community with everything they have.”
“It means the world,” Reed said of the support from the Chiefs. “It’s just kind of our coming out to the world. Like ‘Hey, this I what we've been dealing with. This is our journey.’ And for the Chiefs to support me during the time that I really needed them the most, it just really made me feel like Wonder Woman. It makes me feel valued, and that I wasn’t just a cheerleader. I'm considered family.”
Reed’s Wonder Woman-themed costume raised $2,300 at the event.
2016 marked Colquitt’s fourth year involved with Bra Couture KC, and he has become an avid supporter of the foundation.
“Dustin is our unofficial spokesperson, if you will,” Payne said. “He has really studied the organization, and has taken it upon himself to talk about how important it is. If the Kansas City Chiefs are involved, it’s a big deal in our community.”
Colquitt described why he’s continued to support the program over the years.
“They’ve overcome a lot of adversity, whether it be breast cancer or any other cancer,” he said. “Its just empowering to see these women walk down and say, ‘Hey, I’ve survived this thing, and I've beat it.’ Bra Couture KC has just been very special in my life for the last four years. And with these women, it’s awesome seeing them getting out and enjoying the night.”
Entering the sixth year of the event in 2016, the Bra Couture KC had already raised over $730,000 for uninsured and underinsured Kansas City breast cancer patients, while serving over 3,200 local patients in need.
“I think even from the very beginning, the idea of facing breast cancer or any kind of cancer is terrifying,” Payne added. “Not just losing your hair and losing your breasts, but there is that chance that you are losing your life. I think that's the passion behind every single one of us that work on this. My passion went from, ‘I can’t imagine facing cancer without insurance,’ to [now] we're in a realm of assisting women who would not have ever had a choice of care if it wasn't for these dollars.”
When the final tally came in, Friday night’s event raised over $250,000 for patients in need, news that should make continued involvement worth it for Chiefs Ambassadors and current players like Colquitt and Maclin in future years.
“We're one big family,” Maclin said, “from the cheerleaders to the media to the players to the people upstairs. I think the more we support each other, the better off we will be.”
For more information on Bra Couture KC, visit BraCoutureKC.com