By Heather Snyder

There are as many different attitudes and approaches to fundraising as there are individual fundraisers. Some take a methodical approach, others make an emotional appeal, and still others fundraise with a sense of fun and humor.

The Coconutter Strutters, a Susan G. Komen Michigan 3-Day team, is always bringing fun and flair to the 3-Day event. So it’s no surprise that they bring the same to their largest fundraiser.

Captain of the Coconutter Strutters, Vanessa D., was kind enough to take a few moments to chat about how she became involved in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® and to provide some background on their big FUNdraiser, Bras for a Cause. Vanessa joined the 3-Day® for a fun weekend with her bestie, Amelia, and to walk in honor of her aunt who passed away from breast cancer. Now 11 years into her 3-Day journey, Vanessa still typically participates in at least two 3-Day events a year, both as a walker and a crew member. And her team sure makes a splash every time they show up on event!

Bras for a Cause, the fundraiser that happens in western Michigan, was not originated by the Coconutter Strutters, but rather the Women’s Council of Realtors. A local council chapter in western Michigan recreated the event and invited Vanessa and her team because of their connection to the breast cancer cause. Vanessa said it was a fun event, and a cool concept, but the execution had some flaws. This is when the Coconutter Strutters and the Women’s Council of Realtors Lakeshore teamed up to collaborate on the event.

So what exactly is Bras for a Cause? It is a male fashion show where the models sport some really awesome themed costumes, bras included! The event also includes a silent and a live auction. And it’s even funnier when you realize that it takes place in western Michigan, where things tend to be a bit more conservative. When the male models “push the envelope” with their acts, even the most old-fashioned members of the audience go wild!

This successful event takes some serious planning, usually about nine months to pull it all together. The Coconutter Strutters organize it and the Women’s Council of Realtors gets out there and promotes it. The event, which is mostly publicized by word of mouth and Facebook, has grown in popularity and fundraising over the years. The first year, it raised roughly $1,500, but in its best year, proceeds climbed to $50,000! The generosity of the local community of Holland, Michigan, helps keep the event costs down. The local Doubletree hotel donates the ballroom, and the DJ, photographer, and the event emcees all donate their time. Appetizers are included in the price of the ticket ($40) and a cash bar is offered.

Bras for a Cause also enlists the help of sponsors. With the event in its 10th year, they have a good solid group that returns annually. Sponsors are ranked by bra sizes: C, D, DD. The larger the amount of the sponsorship, the larger the bra size! Along with their financial contribution and depending on their bra size, that sponsor receives a specific number of tickets to the event to share with guests of their choice. Sponsors also submit a bra package for guests to bid on. A few examples include: weekend getaways, charter boat trips, a food truck party for your 50 closest friends, concert tickets, golf packages. As a past guest, I can attest a few of the offerings bring in some very impressive dollars! Another fun part of the package is that with each donated package, you must also donate a male model to work the cat walk that evening.

It is a wild, fun night that everyone enjoys! But the reason everyone is there — the fight to end breast cancer — is not lost. “Our Promise” is displayed prominently on a large screen for all to see. And all attendees know that with every donation, they’re making a real impact.

Fundraising Heroes is a new Event 360 blog series where we highlight individuals who are making their communities and the world a better place, one dollar at a time. These people have chosen fundraising as their superpower and we are honored to share their stories. If you know a fundraising hero we should highlight, please email and tell us why this person inspires you.

Heather Snyder is entering into her third season with Event 360 as a Local Market Coordinator for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. She loves the awesome opportunities this job affords her, including working with some of the best folks on the planet! Heather resides in Michigan with her three rescue fur babies and truly has never met a pup she didn’t love.

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