Creative Cups 2017 gala uses ornate bras to fight breast cancer


These cups runneth over.

Creative Cups 2017, a fundraiser gala showcasing ordinary bras that have been ornately transformed, will take place on Thursday, March 16, at Adelphi University in Garden City. This year’s theme is “A Kaleidoscope of the Senses.” 

Pat Battle, a breast cancer survivor and a co-anchor of “Weekend Today in New York” on WNBC/4, will host the biennial event.

This is the fifth gala where bras are auctioned to raise money for the Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Group, a volunteer effort that provides services, support and information about the disease.

Creative Cups 2017 features 137 bras — including 28 that were made by two or more people and an international entry from Brazil. More than 200 people participated in decorating the bras. 

For Creative Cups founder and Adelphi graphic arts professor Dale Flashner, the idea to auction off decorated bras was sparked by a former student who had attended a similar event in Maryland in 2007. Flashner brought the concept of Creative Cups to Hillary Rutter, executive director of the Adelphi Breast Cancer Program. 
“We continue to be amazed at the creativity of the contributors,” Rutter said. 

The organization hopes to raise at least $100,000 this year between the auction, the $50 entry fee that was paid for each submission, and sales of a coffee-table book featuring all of the bras. For the first time, there will also be a live auction of the 12 top bras as chosen by organizers.

Each of these bras comes fitted with a personal story.

WHAT Creative Cups
WHEN | WHERE 7-9 p.m. Thursday, March 16, at Adelphi University’s Ruth S. Harley University Center, 1 South Ave., Garden City
INFO 516-877-4320, or

Here is a sampling of how some came to be.

'Life Is a Puzzle'

Terri DiBella took an optimistic approach while piecing
(Credit: Jim Lennon)

Terri DiBella took an optimistic approach while piecing together “Life Is a Puzzle.” 
“Life is a puzzle and not all the pieces fit, at the beginning,” says DiBella, of Flushing. “It takes time to find the right piece, and over time and patience the pieces will fit all together and you will have a complete picture.”

'Stomp Out Cancer'

Kathy Harris chose to spotlight one of the
(Credit: Jim Lennon)

Kathy Harris chose to spotlight one of the lesser-known players in cancer research: elephants. These animals rarely get cancer, a phenomenon scientists have struggled to explain. Harris, who lives in Florida, said, “Elephants that used to play the circus are now playing a big part in cancer research. Scientists hope that studying what protects elephants from cancer could lead to huge improvements in cancer treatments for humans.” 

'Dandelion Wishes'

(Credit: Jim Lennon)

“Dandelion Wishes” is a joint effort between 8-year-old Sienna Rose and her mother, Heather Leaver, of Huntington Station. This is the second time the pair have participated in Creative Cups. Tiny butterflies line the straps on their creation. The colorful insects also appear on the cups of the bra, which is adorned with flowers, grass and sunny skies. 

“I love to pick dandelions and make wishes on the seeds as they float in the air,” Sienna says. “I picture the wishes going to a magical land where dreams and wishes come true.”



'Fight for a Cure'

Taking a literal approach, Rocio Estrada's
(Credit: Jim Lennon)

Taking a literal approach, Rocio Estrada’s “Fight for a Cure” cups are made to resemble pink boxing gloves. The bra is meant to represent “a punch to the cancer cell,” said Estrada, a Baldwin resident.

Cancer has made a warrior of many people, Estrada said, from those diagnosed with the disease to those who fundraise and research for a cure. 

'At Your Service'

(Credit: Jim Lennon)

“At Your Service” serves up the harsh truths of breast cancer.

The bra was made by Darlene Murray, a survivor of the disease. Murray wrote a poem to accompany her custom “caffeinated” and “decaffeinated” cups. 

“I looked to bring some type of spigot or faucet concept to the bra and came up with ’At Your Service,’ which honors working women who literally serve others,” says Murray, of upstate Saratoga Springs.

The final lines in the poem read: “I am still here -- half-decaffeinated, but still serving. Not everyone is so lucky.” 

'Cabaret Cups'

New York PIX 11 news anchor Tamsen Fadal
(Credit: Jim Lennon)

New York PIX 11 news anchor Tamsen Fadal says she inherited a love for the theater from her mother, a passionate theatergoer, who lost her battle with breast cancer at age 50. Fadal partnered with Bryant Hoven, head tailor for the Metropolitan Opera’s costume shop, to make “The Cabaret Cups,” inspired by the Broadway musical "Cabaret."

Bryant stitched a lyric from the show -- “What good is sitting alone in your room?” -- onto the bra’s left cup. 

“It is a good quote to fight cancer and one that I believe my mother subscribed to,” Fadal says. 

The black-and-pink bra also features a cat on the left cup as a symbol of the Kit Kat Club, which was the setting of "Cabaret," Fadal says, and the color pink seemed a natural choice given its association with the fight against breast cancer. 


'On Broadway'

These cups are fit for the Great White
(Credit: Jim Lennon)

These cups are fit for the Great White Way, says Dana Wilhelm, of Baldwin, who worked with Caitlin and Chelsea Rowan to make “On Broadway.” The bra features marquee signs from such shows as “Hamilton,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Rent,” “The Lion King” and “West Side Story.” 

“The stories told on Broadway are full of life lessons, of all which serve as a reminder to live each day to the absolute fullest,” Wilhelm says. 


'Armor & Amore'

Kali and Noelle Ventresca, sisters and owners
(Credit: Jim Lennon)

Kali and Noelle Ventresca, sisters and owners of Impish Lee, a Sea Cliff lingerie brand that allows women to design their own intimate apparel, were inspired by the warrior goddess Athena to create “Armor & Amore.” 

“The focal point of our bra is a jump-ring chest-piece, designed to reflect chainmail, keeping the woman strong and fearless in the face of battle,” said Kali Ventresca, of Bayville. 

The sisters used gold foil spandex, various elastics, metal jump-rings and hooks and vintage trimmings to create the bra. 

“Breast cancer is a battle,” Noelle Ventresca says. “The women who enter that battle are inherent warriors and should be clad in only the finest armor.” 




'Extruding a Cure'

(Credit: Jim Lennon)

Self-described “tech geek” Chris Toften of Bellrose used a 3-D printer to make a bra with his friends Giuseppe Prisco of Floral Park and Adam Margolies of Briarwood in honor of Toften’s aunt Linda Walsh, who lost her battle with breast cancer, and his mother-in-law, Kristine DiPalma, a survivor of the disease. The title “Extruding a Cure” is intended to signify the process of melting or extruding the 3-D material to create the shapes that are displayed.

“In creating a 3-D print, it is difficult to produce curves in objects without the proper supports,” Toften says. “Just as in the fight against breast cancer, help and support is important for whatever curve life hands you.”

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