Mardi Bras is a booby ball — but you don’t need boobs to come.
Though this fundraising celebration for Breast Cancer Awareness Month may have begun as a women’s-only event five years ago, today it’s a costumed party for everyone.
Who, by the way, will be there donating their time to help run the event, in firefighting garb.
Although as Lyndsey Hamilton, one of the Mardi Bras organizers tells me, “I think they came in shirts last year, but they didn’t last very long.”
Mardi Bras is a night of music, dancing, entertainment, and food. There will be Velvet Antler burlesque, the comedy of Jenny Hamilton, and music by Major Funk and the Employment.
Burnt Toast Cafe will be catering, and there will be a silent auction with donations ranging from Air North tickets to Lululemon outfits.
This year’s theme is Leather and Lace, and costumes are encouraged, but optional.
“I’m always shocked by the number of corsets there are in the Yukon,” says Hamilton, citing the many women who have dressed up for Mardi Bras in the past. “But you can show up ‘Yukon fancy’ as well.”
The event kicks off October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but is more specifically a fundraiser for Karen’s Fund.
Karen’s Fund was created in 2000 in memory of Karen Wiederkehr.
Wiederkehr was a Yukon resident who died of breast cancer at 37, after months of chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries, and hospitalization. She left behind a young son, a devoted husband, and a desire to support other women in her situation.
Wiederkehr’s husband, Jack, has kept her legacy alive by creating both Karen’s Room — a quiet, comfortable space at the Whitehorse General Hospital for chemo patients and their families — and Karen’s Fund.
The fund provides one-time, no-questions-asked gifts of $1000 to Yukon women recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
“The way you use the money is up to your own discretion,” says Val Pike, another organizer on the volunteer committee. “Many women end up taking multiple trips to Vancouver for treatment. Even to put your dog in a kennel. It adds up. This helps a little bit.”
In it’s fourteen years running, Karen’s Fund has helped 84 women, provided $84 000 of financial assistance to Yukon women struggling through breast cancer treatments.
Mardi Bras tickets cost $40, with $25 from each going directly into Karen’s Fund. There’s also a ‘secret cocktail’ at the bar, dubbed the Bratini. One hundred per cent of Bratini sales go into Karen’s Fund as well — drinking for a cause is always nice.
Everyone’s time and energy is donated — the auction items, the performances, the bartenders.
“Yukon businesses are extremely generous,” says Hamilton.
The event is on Saturday, October 4, at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Tickets are on sale at Alpine Bra Boutique and Climate Clothing, and will also be available at the door.
Warning: it’s a cash bar and there is no ATM at the event; plan accordingly.
Mardi Bras is meant to be as fun as its name suggests; but it’s fun with a purpose.
“Breast cancer’s not an easy thing to wrap your head around,” Pike says. “The more we promote awareness, the more we can talk about it.”