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Members of SAAB and Sigma Phi Epsilon stage unique fundraiser

By Russell Axon
On October 24, 2012

 Of all the events supporting this month’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, none were quite as sexy as “Brothers for Bras.” Members of UT’s Student African-American Brotherhood and Sigma Phi Epsilon raised money for breast cancer research Thursday, Oct. 18, by wearing bras around campus. SAAB financial chairman Joshua Ddamulira said the event’s second effort raised over $600 for the Susan G. Komen of Northwest Ohio Organization. The senior pharmacy major said the event was a creative way to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. The group also managed to turn some heads.  “[We received] a lot of weird looks,” said Tre Simms, SAAB service chairman. “We also got a lot of people that were excited that we were doing the event ... [it was] complete opposite ends of the spectrum.” Ddamulira said the bras for the event were a combination of SAAB purchases and loaners from members’ female acquaintances. The bras were worn over shirts, and a few female students also participated. Particpants spent three hours at various locations around the Student Union Building collecting donations. Simms said it was important for everyone involved to feel comfortable, and participants could remove their bras at any time. “It was a little strange at first, but as the day went on I kind of forgot I had one on, especially walking around with the other guys [wearing bras],” he said.  Ddamulira said the group’s sense of camaraderie helped participants overcome any “fears or stigmas” about their appearance. “Everybody pretty much swallowed their pride and was good about fully participating in the event,” he said.  While the event encouraged a lighter tone, Ddamulira said it was also a way for participants to connect with those who have suffered from breast cancer. “When women go through breast cancer, sometimes they lose their hair, they lose their breasts, and they experience embarrassment and shame. As men, I know we can’t ever truly experience that,” he said. “It’s a horrible comparison, but we wanted to wear bras and kind of experience a small taste of that.”  Simms, whose aunt is currently battling breast cancer, said the event was important for him since so many people are personally affected one way or another by the disease. “A lot of our [SAAB] brothers knew somebody who had been affected by it, or they knew somebody personally that is going through it or had been through it,” he said. “So we knew it was big issue, and that there was something we could do. So why not take the chance ... since we have the tools and the people that want to do it.”  The event was created last year by SAAB members Christopher Scott and Michael Jones, and SAAB raised over $400. Ddamulira said SAAB approached Sigma Phi Epsilon over the summer about joining the event. For next year, Simms said he wants to extend the event’s duration beyond the three hour limit since many members were unable to attend the brief time window. Ddamulira expressed long term ambitions, saying he wants Brothers for Bras to become an annual, multi-day event that covers Scott Park, the Health Science Campus and, eventually, off campus. “We’re happy with what we did this year,” he said. “We’re proud of the amount that we raised in the time we had.” — RussellAxon

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