Skip to Main Navigation | Skip to Content

University Relations

University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


UCM Students Participate in ArtBra KC to Benefit Cancer Survivors

Contact: Mike Greife
WARRENSBURG, MO (March 24, 2015) – For the second year, students from the University of Central Missouri’s fashion and apparel merchandising program and Delta Zeta sorority will play a key role in ArtBra KC, generating awareness of breast cancer and raising funds to assist cancer survivors.

ArtBraKC students
Fashion and apparel merchandising majors Courtney Schwenck, left, and Jessica Williams, right, work on their original designs for the ArtBra KC event planned for May 1 in Kansas City.

The ArtBra KC fundraising event is a fashion show of custom designed bras that are modeled and auctioned as a fundraiser. The funds raised provide financial support for women who have survived breast cancer but are struggling to meet the resulting financial obligations due to inadequate or nonexistent insurance coverage.

According to Billie Perrin, instructor in the UCM Fashion and Apparel Merchandising program, the involvement of UCM’s students began last year when they were approached by a member of the ArtBra KC board of director about assisting with the event.

The idea appealed to members of the Fashion Business Association. They joined with Delta Zeta sorority in designing and donating 40 bras to the 2014 event. More than 90 students and faculty also volunteered in a variety of roles on the day of the event.

“We expect to have that many bras and volunteers again this year,” Perrin said. The volunteers will perform a variety of tasks, from helping with setup prior to the event and cleanup afterward to assisting with the auction and escorting VIPs. “One of our students was assigned last year to escort Kansas City Chiefs Coach Andy Reid,” Perrin added.

The students also had the opportunity to have their creativity and design skills validated.

“Out of the many bras that are designed and donated, 20 are selected to be modeled,” Perrin said. “Last year three of our designs were among the 20 selected to be modeled, and we’re excited to if our designs are selected this year.”

She added that the event was an excellent opportunity for students to learn not only about apparel design, but also about how their skills can be used to benefit others. The Fashion Business Association and Delta Zeta also have partnered in the past on the Cinderella Dress Exchange project, which provides prom dresses for girls who might not otherwise be able to have one.

Senior Melissa Spersflage volunteered at last year’s ArtBra KC event, and will return this year. In addition to her submitted design, she worked as a greeter and assisted with setup and bidding.

“It’s rewarding to use what I’m passionate about to give back to others by raising funds for those in need,” she said.

For several of the students, the reason for participating in ArtBra KC is personal, with their own experiences reflected in the themes of their designs. Maggie Hoffelmeyer’s aunt is a breast cancer survivor. Maggie joined family members in providing support for her aunt and gained a true understanding of the impact of the disease on an individuals and their family. Her design, covered with buttons, is titled “Cancer Can Kiss My Button.”

“It really got me involved in a greater awareness of cancer research” she said. “This is my way of celebrating her survival.”

Michelle Anderson helped care for her ex-boyfriend’s mother, who lost her battle with breast cancer.

“She loved eagles, so my design resembles the spread wings of an eagle,” Anderson explained. “It’s about ‘Soaring above Cancer.’ ”

Jessica Williams designed and created her own fabric for her design with a collage of photos of cancer survivors that was then transferred to the fabric. “The Faces of Survivors” celebrates their victories over the disease. For Holly Lu, a UCM student from China, the use of the color red in her design of beads and stars symbolizes hope for the future, expressing her theme of “Don’t Give Up.”

“Our hope is that the involvement by our students and faculty in this event will contribute to creating an awareness of breast cancer and an awareness of the preventative measures that are available to women,” Perrin said. “For our students, the benefit is in their awareness of the value of philanthropy, as well as their own personal awareness.”

The ArtBra KC event is planned for May 1 at the TWA Museum at the Kansas City Downtown Airport. Tickets and additional information are available at