Published April 15, 2014
Volume 22, Number 4

Bras for the Cause Puts the Fun in Fundraiser
Tri-Valley SOCKS

By Zoe Francis

Wild and wacky bras, a nighttime walk and a party rife with sweet treats are the trademarks of the ninth annual Bras for the Cause Breast Cancer Walk on May 10.
Bras for the Cause is hosted by the nonprofit Tri-Valley SOCKs – Stepping Out for Cancer Kures.
“Our niche is to be fun and different and at night,” J.J. Olsen, Tri-Valley SOCKs president, said. “Who says you can’t have fun and save the world at the same time?”
The idea for the creative breast cancer walk sprouted in 2005 when a group of friends was building stamina for a three-day breast cancer walk. They joined forces to support each other, but lamented that friends and family who could not endure long walks were not able to participate.
“These women decided they wanted to do a local walk that didn’t have such a big fundraising component and didn’t take so much time to prepare for,” Olsen explained. “And they wanted to do something that was fun.”
The friends heard of a zany event where walkers wear elaborately decorated bras on the outside of their clothes. They borrowed that ingenious idea and ran with it, devising their own 10K (6.2-mile) route.
“We put our own spin on it,” Olsen said. “We did the decorated bras. We start in the day and end in the night. We have a party at the end of the walk.”
Olsen and the founders are proud to note that their nonprofit is run 100 percent by the hard work of many volunteers. All of the money raised is donated to local programs to support breast cancer patients.
“What’s so amazing to me is we’ve raised $900,000 in our first years of the event,” Olsen said proudly. “We’re hoping to hit $1 million this year. It’s huge. It’s just this group of women who met walking and were able to accomplish this feat.”
Most donations are not huge -- $10, $25 and $50 are common donation amounts.
“If we reach a million dollars, it’s through all these individual donations that just add up,” she said. “It’s an amazingly grassroots (movement) making a difference.”
Each walker must raise at least $200 and pay a $50 registration fee to cover expenses.
“The (money) you raise is given back to the community,” she said.
Tri-Valley SOCKs supports ValleyCare Foundation’s breast cancer fund for uninsured and underinsured women; Axis Community Health, which offers affordable healthcare; UCSF research; and the Fremont-based HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, which helps cancer patients with post-surgical supplies and services.
The walk draws mostly women, but plenty of men get into the spirit and don decorated bras.
“Some of our men have the most creative bras,” Olsen said with a laugh. “We’re cozy, fun and creative.”
The walk is always held the Saturday before Mother’s Day. This year’s walk on May 10 starts and ends at Amador Valley High School. The post-walk chocolate-themed party features sweets and savories, plus prizes for the most creative bras.
“I really believe that we are making a difference,” Olsen said. “To be able to have fun with your friends and make a difference at the same time is the ultimate good time. It’s a bonding experience. It’s a feel-good experience. It’s life changing.”
For more information about the walk and to register online or make a donation, visit trivalleysocks.org.

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