Marie Lamelle’s support of the Soroptimist Bras for a Cause gala, which raised money for breast cancer programs at all three Glendale hospitals, was a two-pronged tale of altruism.
Professionally, she serves as a commissioner on Glendale’s Commission on the Status of Women, and personally, Lamelle has been touched by relatives who have battled cancer.
“My mom had leukemia and my dad prostate,” she said. “I’m here on behalf of them. Anything I can do to help spread my money for this cause is worth it.”
Lamelle was one of 275 men and women who opened up their wallets and hearts Saturday evening at the Oakmont Country Club to bid on bras turned into art projects, baskets filled with wine, cheese and other enticements, and to listen to Glendale officials and residents who turned out to support the Soroptimist fundraiser.
Money raised Saturday night went toward breast cancer service programs at Glendale’s three major hospitals and for grants for about 20 other local nonprofits that work on behalf of women and girls, said club President Margo Bottcher.
But the event was not just about raising money.
The most creative bras, all of which were travel themed, were awarded for achievements in creativity, humor and uniqueness.
One item that featured giant globes encased in a brown bra created by Joe DiMaggio was awarded the People’s Choice Award for best overall design, while the most humorous award went to a blue bra that was turned into goggles, sitting in an underwater seascape. The bra that turned the most heads, the one awarded Most Beautiful, was a bustier turned into a working lamp with an Asian theme, titled, “Vacation in the Orient Bra,” designed by artist Denise Michelle and eventually auctioned off for $270.
“These are not just bras,” Lamelle said. “These are works of art.”
Attendees ranged from area professionals to elected officials who praised the event and the implications for Glendale.
“Glendale is very supportive of good causes,” Councilman Bob Yousefian said. “We are unique in that we are one of very few cities that have as many volunteer organizations. The city would be a different place without them.”
Deputy City Manager Yasmin Beers, a past president of the Soroptimist Club, an international volunteer organization whose name is derived from the Latin word meaning “best for women,” called the fundraiser “one of the best events of the year.”
“This brings the community together for a specific cause,” she added. “This helps so many people in Glendale.”
One of those people was Melina Thorpe, director of Glendale Adventist Medical Center, one of the hospitals for which the event raised money.
“This is an unbelievable event,” she said. “Anything we get will be put to good use.”
Last year, the organization’s annual fundraiser allocated $5,000 to the hospital that allowed them to build a positive image center, which helps patients maintain a healthy self-image during the treatment process, she said. Her husband, David Thorpe, stood nearby nodding his hand, one of many men who accompanied his wife to the event.
“So many people you know have been affected by cancer,” he said. “My mom is a 30-year survivor. This is about everyone.”
The unofficial tally of money raised from the auction was about $32,000, a slight decrease from last year’s amount, but something officials are not concerned about, according to the event’s organizer, Gayle Craig.
“We are very pleased [with the amount],” she said. “We had people saying it was the best one yet.”