Twenty-eight years ago, Elaine Hill was diagnosed with breast cancer. Three years after her diagnosis, Hill founded Breast Cancer Support Services to ensure others with the same diagnosis would not have to struggle to find a support system like she did.
BCSS offers women and families in Chattanooga and the surrounding areas many free services that help with the treatment and aftermath of breast cancer.
One way BCSS is able to provide those services for free to those in need is through its annual fashion show, BRA-VO!
Currently in its fifth year, the fashion show is BCSS' largest annual fundraiser, said BCSS Executive Director Meghan Greene.
"The main goals of the fashion show is to celebrate breast cancer survivors and show that life does go on," Greene said.
The show also allows BCSS to replenish its emergency fund, which offers financial assistance to people going through treatment, providing help with bills, gas cards and more.
The fashion show features 25 breast cancer survivors — both male and female — as models.
"The models are a wide range of different kinds of people. We keep it diverse so we can show that breast cancer can affect anyone," Greene said.
Professional hair stylists and makeup artists are brought in to pamper the models, and the models get to spend time with other survivors whom they may not have met otherwise, Greene said.
The outfits for the fashion show are provided by local boutiques and stores. This year, fashions from Frankie & Julian's, Irma Marie, K :: A Boutique by Katherine Roberts, Rock/Creek Outfitters, Stein Mart and Yacoubian Tailors will grace the runway.
Food will be provided by Culinary Creations, La Familia, Dish T' Pass and other local eateries.
There will also be chocolate truffles for sale, and some will have prizes associated with them: gift cards from local restaurants and salons, plus other prizes including gift baskets.
BRA-VO! is Sunday, April 2 at Track 29. Doors will open at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased through bcss-chattanooga.org or by calling BCSS at 629-2445 for $40, and at the door for $45.
For more information on BCSS and its services, monthly support groups, a resource guide to dealing with breast cancer, wig referral services and more, visit its website.
"We are proud to have been providing these services for so long, and we're aiming to do so for another 25 years," Greene said.