Mardi Bras!

Marcus Melendez will be a model in the 2018 Central Texas Bra Brunch on Oct. 2 at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.

Mardi Bras!, the theme of the 2018 Central Texas Bra Brunch, is about celebrating the American Cancer Society and the work it has done in finding a cure for cancer.

In October, the focus is on breast cancer awareness.

This year’s bra brunch will be 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Bell County Expo Center, 301 Loop 121, Belton.

This is the sixth year for the local event, and entertainment at the bra brunches always has included men in decorated bras. Some of the bras light up; some have included noise makers; all are bedazzled to the extreme. The bras are auctioned off at the brunch.

Past themes included Bras, Brunch and Bubbles; Lions and Tigers and Bras, Oh My; Purses and Pearls; and Cupcakes for a Cause.

Marcus Melendez, 18, of Belton will model this year in honor of his grandmother, Sandra Guajardo, a breast cancer survivor. He’s been a model at previous brunches.

His creation this year is very much in the Mardi Gras theme — with feathers, beads in green, gold and purple, and many other embellishments.

It took Melendez about a month to make his bra, working on it on and off in his spare time.

Melendez said he and his siblings knew his grandmother was being treated for breast cancer, but she didn’t discuss it much.

“Ever since I was young I always had a passion for art, I was always crafting and drawing,” he said. “I was a little different from my brothers, who were more athletic. She understood.”

His grandmother taught Melendez how to sew. She, too, has a passion for crafting.

“She’s been a blessing,” Melendez said.

The bra brunch is a fun event, he said. The money it raises not only funds cancer research, but also the programs that serve cancer patients.

“It’s a lot of laughs and smiles,” Melendez said of the brunch. “I’ve been looking forward to it since the last one.”

The guest speaker at Mardis Bras! will be Patty Kramer, author of “Color Me Pink.” Kramer is a breast cancer survivor from Llano and a proponent of early detection.

Karen Dungan, along with a few other women, has been involved in the local bra brunch since its beginning.

Last year’s event raised $20,000, and the goal is to raise more money each year.

“I guess $30,000 would be a nice sum to raise,” Dungan said.

Dungan is typically behind the curtains during the brunch, helping the models get organized and into their bras.

The planning group starts working months in advance of the brunch.

“I’m hoping next year I can sit at a table and just enjoy the event,” she said. “I hear it’s a lot of fun and I’m ready to let someone else take my place in the planning and execution.”

The American Cancer Society is the largest private, not-for-profit funder of cancer research in the United States, investing more than $4 billion since 1946. Thanks in part to its contributions, more than 1.5 million lives have been saved in the United States in the past two decades.

The American Cancer Society and the Global Center for Medical Innovation have selected the first project to be funded under a recently launched partnership to identify, fund and promote promising medical devices and technologies within the American Center Society portfolio of current or previously funded research. The goal of the initiative is to identify and solve critical unmet needs through innovative technology solutions to diagnose and treat cancer, and bring them to market.

The American Cancer Society and Global Center for Medical Innovation have selected Boston University’s BOTLab, the first oncology project to enter the program. BOTLab, short for Biomedical Optical Technologies Lab, will receive up to $100,000 to accelerate BOTLab’s near-infrared spectroscopy technology. The aim is to use the technology to provide real-time data that can determine how well chemotherapy is working in breast cancer patients. The funding is in addition to an existing American Cancer Society grant to investigators at BOTlab, and its purpose is to accelerate high-quality commercialization of innovative medical technologies.

For tickets, see American Cancer Society’s Central Texas Bras Brunch - 2 October 2018 page on Facebook, or call 512-919-1809.