The event was the third annual “Bras for the Cause” event, put on by the Women’s Council of Realtors.
Nancy Ulrich, with the council, said local businesses picked a theme, decorated a bra to fit and pulled together a basket to go with it.
More than a dozen bare-chested firefighters bravely donned the ornate pieces of art, strutted down the runway and danced for a lively group of more than 300 people — mostly women. The firefighters were not included in the auction, but merely served as models.
Sean McSpedden, who lives in Chandler but works for Aldine Fire Department in north Houston, helped energize the crowd when he took the stage.
McSpedden was wearing the “treasure your chest” bra, which had Mari Gras beads arranged in a gypsy-style, with strands hanging down his belly.
He flashed a pink ribbon on his bicep, shook his hips and danced around the room from bidder to bidder, trying to get the highest dollar amount, earning $800 for cancer research.
Melissa Stilley was surprised when Tyler firefighter Bryan Boyd put her head between
the candy encrusted cups of his “Candyland” bra. Mrs. Stilley said Boyd works on her pool during his off days.
“I think I instantly turned red,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s a great cause.”
Boyd’s wife, Danielle, jokingly told Mrs. Stilley “I’ve got my eye on you.”
Tomi Ellis, of Tyler, won the “Fifty Shades of Pink” bra in the first bidding war of the night. The bra sold for $885.
Mrs. Ellis said she is on the board for Susan G. Komen in Tyler, and bid on the bra because the cause is dear to her heart.
But the end of the evening took a serious tone as patrons remembered the true reason they were there.
With six bras left, Sherriff J.B. Smith, the evening’s auctioneer, told the crowds they needed to step up their game because last year $2,000 was raised off one bra. He asked how many had had loved ones affected by the disease.
“Give it up for those you know with cancer.”
The mother, Kalisha Boyd, of Tyler, said the outpour of support has been overwhelming for her son, and she saw it as an opportunity to give back.
Before the “survivors” bra — the last of the 30 up for bid — went up for auction, firefighters took a moment to cheer for the survivors in the room.
The bra included a signed T-shirt by all the firefighters and a James Avery necklace.
Cancer survivor Mayor Barbara Bass started the bidding at $500, and Home Land Title Company committed to matching the winning bid.
The piece was won by Kyle Smith with RealEdge Real Estate for $2,700.
Smith said he bought the bra as gifts for two women in his office who battled and won against the disease.
“I wanted them to be able to walk away with something tonight and feel appreciated,” Smith said. “It’s bad enough to go through the treatments, but after the disease is gone, they worry about it for years. “
Gloria Gabriel’s eyes filled with happy tears at the gesture. Mrs. Gabriel, a one-year survivor from Tyler, said it was touching beyond words. Mrs. Gabriel was given the diamond-encrusted bra and the signed T-shirt.
Smith also put the necklace on two-year cancer survivor Cindy Covalt of Bullard.
“Cancer honestly brings out the best in people,” she said. “It is almost beyond words that someone would do this for me.”
About $18,000 was raised from the sale of bras — $10 from each $30 ticket and 50 percent of the proceeds of the bras will go to the Tyler Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Firefighters who serve departments in Tyler, Winona, Noonday, Chandler, Flint-Gresham, Dixie and Aldine modeled for the cause.
He said it is a disease that affects women and their whole families.
“Firefighters try to pay it forward any chance we get,” he said. “This is a fun way to pay it forward.”