BARBERTON: A seemingly endless string of colorful bras dangled over Wooster Road on Wednesday, capturing the attention of passers-by who honked their horns and shouted out their support for the breast cancer awareness display.
The bras were draped across 700 feet of the bridge spanning Wooster Road and Robinson Avenue over the railroad tracks. They were on display all day Wednesday to convey a message of hope.
The display also drew the attention of walkers and bicyclists on the sidewalk alongside the concrete barrier who gazed at the not-so-traditional bra colors. The bras were pink, purple, red, yellow, orange, green and blue. Some had polka dots, others were striped or had flower patterns, some were lacy and others were sporty.
“I wanted to show vibrant colors to try to tie into autumn and the changing colors of the leaves,” said organizer Jim Collver, president of the sponsoring Celtic Club. “It’s a full day of display to provide in some small way a message of hope.”
He said the display is not only for those who went through or are currently going through a diagnosis of breast cancer, but also for those who may have lost someone close to them.
Collver said he was inspired to put on the display for personal reasons. He lost an aunt to breast cancer when she was only 28. He also lost his mom, who had multiple sclerosis, and his girlfriend, who had lung cancer.
This year the Celtic Club Fights Breast Cancer had seven bra displays planned: one in Peninsula; one over Interstate 271 at the Metro Parks Bike and Hike pedestrian bridge; one in downtown Kent; two in Massillon; Wednesday’s display in Barberton; and the last will be in Medina, but no location has been determined yet.
“The one in Barberton dwarfs the others,” Collver said. “How can this display not bring a smile to your face, for at least one day?”
Donations are collected in August and September at about 60 donation sites throughout four counties, mainly at fire stations, but the bras are still coming in.
“It has taken on a life of its own, in a good way,” Collver said. “We try to make use of the bras twice — for the display and then after they are cleaned they are donated to the battered women shelters. A lot of times when ladies leave a situation they are walking out of there with just the clothes on their back.”
Cancer survivor Cheryl Vespoint, 46, of Barberton, helped put up the display for the second year in a row. Vespoint, who had a double mastectomy, has been cancer free for eight years.
“How could I not get involved?” she said. “Every woman in my family died of breast cancer on my mother’s side, all of my cousins and all my aunts. My mother and I are the only survivors.”
She said her mother was cancer free for 15 years and had a single mastectomy, but the cancer has returned and she’s going through chemotherapy again.
“This event is such a wonderful thing. I hope people take note,” Vespoint said. “My goal is to help them fill both sides of the bridge next year.”
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.