Ten years ago, a respectable crowd filled one of the black box theaters at the Shaw Center for the debut of BUST Breast Cancer. Heather Kleinpeter enlisted some local artists to create art bras that would be modeled and sold to benefit the fight against breast cancer. Little did she know that it would grow into one of the city’s biggest, most anticipated and most successful fundraisers.

On Sept. 26, the ballroom at L’Auberge was packed for the 10th anniversary gala, which had 26 breast cancer survivors modeling art bra creations by 30 local artists.

Some of my favorites were Claire Major’s “Girl on Fire” creation modeled by Kathleen Bonaventure, and friend Lynn Weill, a 32-year survivor, boogieing to the Beatles' “Ticket to Ride.” Karen Mainieri and Kathy Fejes draped survivor Jackie Bone in an homage to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and Lindsey Rogillio looked like she might actually take flight as she spread her flaming red, pleated cape in Georgia LaNasa’s “Phoenix Rising.” Puppeteer Clay Achee’s signature monster touch for model Tamika Brown brought down the house as she owned every bit of “Sexy Beast.”

For the finale, Holly Stars stepped out in a bridelike long flowing white gown. But her “Ice Ice Boobies” creation by Shawn Zeringue made her more of a warrior ice princess as she celebrated winning the battle against Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Cheering her on was her squad of friends, all sporting lavender wigs.

The other survivor models and their artists included Crystal Rodrigue Antie and Vicki Badeaux, Sandra Bassett and Beth Doré, Kendra Beckley and Libby Willingham, Allyson Bonner with Elizabeth Mackey and Susan Maxwell, Kim Buchart and Nicole Lane, Deanna Cole and Daina Tate, Kelli Cropper and Christin Dotollo, Stacie DeBlieux and Jennifer Poe, Deshay Devillier with Joli Bryan and Natalie Major, Amy Ensminger and Jessyca Williams, LaTasha Geason and Mary Green, Lisa Gilly and Audrey Wascom, Tolair Jones and Janice Jurkovic, Joy Lonibos with Catherine Cookston Russell and Amy Neck, Angelle Maher and Pam Ward, Renée Mann and Shane Griffin, Laurie Marcel and Virginia Berthelot, Ashley Reed Maryland and Kate Guillot, Lauren Labbé Meher and Ashley Hodges, and Tenney Sibley and Amanda Thibodeaux.

Before the show, guests bid on some tempting silent auction items and sampled the culinary offerings of some of the city’s best restaurants and caterers. A live auction conducted by Ken Buehler and emcee Dixon McMakin brought in more than $40,000, half of which was two $10,000 private gourmet dinners with LSU basketball coach Will Wade, Athletic Director Scott Woodward and, since he was at the event, baseball coach Paul Mainieri threw his hat in the ring, too, prepared by chef Peter Sclafani in the “Back Room” of Phil’s Oyster Bar. I’m not sure if it was the VIP guests or the backroom that had the most appeal for winners Cassandra Allain and Johnny Fife.

Kudos to Chairwoman Ruthie Golden and her committee chairwomen — Francine Boyd, Sarah Grace Brooks, Courtney Edwards, Rose Marie Fife, Kelly Frank, Lisa Gilly, Becky Gottsegen, Cristy Heck, Jeanné Lewis, Amber Moreau, Mary Catherine Ogilvie, Pam Parker, William Roy, Kathryn Sullivan, Hodges, Kleinpeter, Tate and Zeringue.

Tiara Luncheon

Confess, you’ve always wanted to wear a tiara in the middle of the day as you lunched with friends. That’s exactly what we did Sept. 27 at the Iris Domestic Abuse Center’s debut Tiara Luncheon. And, to the delight of everyone, emcee Kiran Chawla even managed to put one on Maj. Todd Morris, who was there representing the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.

They both spoke briefly on their personal experiences with victims of domestic abuse. Morris shared the grim news that just days before the luncheon the department had responded to a stabbing of one women and strangulation of another, who was also pregnant. It drove home the startling statistic that in the United States, there are 20 victims of domestic abuse every minute.

One of those was Sharla Sossamon, who told her heart-wrenching story of survival. How, you wonder, could a member of the Louisiana National Guard become a victim? Listening to her recount her experience, you realize how easy it can happen.

“My military training never could have prepared me for his controlling behavior,” she said. “Iris saved my life and restored my dignity.”

And if the best revenge is successfully coming out on the other side, then she’s on top of the mountain. Tears in her eyes, Sossamon told the crowd that her daughter recently was accepted into medical school.

She was followed by LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux: “Your mission shows that you get it. For everyone you pull out of domestic violence is a 10 — a 9.9. This is a total team effort … excellence is where the mind, body and spirit all come together.”

Executive Director John Price closed out the day, announcing that Iris is moving into a new donated location and needs to come up with the funds to fix it up and furnish it. Among the items needed are desks, cribs, children’s games and books, gently used couches and chairs, video games, bedside and floor lamps, tools, vacuum cleaners and queen-size bedspreads. 

That wish list includes:

KIDZONE - furniture for children such as desks, chairs, cribs, children computer learning consoles, padded floor mat, storage racks, bookcases, children games, books, videos and CDs.

TEENAGE RECREATION ROOM - slightly used couches and chairs, any audio or video equipment, computer desks or tables, Xbox or PlayStation and video games, footballs, air hockey or pool tables.

GENERAL FACILITY NEEDS - riding lawnmower, string trimmer, blower, working washers and dryers, working commercial dishwasher, tools and tool chest, bedside and floor lamps, desks and credenzas, rack shelving, vacuum cleaners, floor polishing buffing machine and queen-size bed spreads.

Belly Up

Later on Sept. 27, I headed over to the LSU’s Parker Memorial Coliseum for the Baton Rouge Bar Association Young Lawyers Section’s annual Belly Up with the Bar. Association staff member Donna Buuck, oversees the cooking competition.

Judges were divided into two teams to sample the various dishes. When it was all said and done, Best Grub honors went to: first place — Postlethwaite & Netterville for its Let’s Taco ‘Bout It; second place — Walters Papillion Thomas Cullens for its Claw & Order; and third place — District Attorney Hillar Moore’s 2020 campaign for its Alligator Sauce Piquant.

The guests didn’t agree with any of our choices, and picked the Brazilian Bacon Chicken Wrap by Hammond Sills as the People's Choice winner.

The team from the LSU Law Center won the law school competition for its Crawfish Cornbread with Etouffée, Taylor Porter won Best Dessert for its Disco (cake) Balls and Breazeale Sachse & Wilson earned Best Drink bragging rights for its Oktoberfest Home Brew. Spencer Callahan Injury Lawyers took the trophy for Best Theme for their Pink Ladies and Greasers 1950s diner.

Cat Tales & Cocktails

From LSU, I headed to the Crowne Plaza where things were in full swing for Cat Haven’s annual Cat Tales & Cocktails poolside party. Stormy was midway through “Stray Cat,” keeping with the night’s cat theme and trying to lure guests to dance floor. A silent auction was dominated by kitty-themed and cat-friendly items, as well as lots of people goodies.

Symphony League

Earlier in the week on Sept. 25, the Baton Rouge Symphony League’s Guest Day Coffee was held at the home of Nicole DeMoss. Special guests were maestro Timothy Muffitt and Executive Director Eric Marshall.

Muffitt thanked the league for its unwavering support for the orchestra and gave some highlights for the exciting 2019-20 season. “You allow us to pursue excellence,” he said.

Charlotte Smith then introduced Shannon Hultberg, who told everyone to pack their bags and grab their passports because this coming spring’s Mad Hatter’s luncheon was going “Around the World.” She then introduced Mad Hatter’s honorary Chairwoman Jan Attinger, who works magic every year in coming up with the luncheon’s seating chart. Circle March 19 on your calendar.

Women United

Later on Sept. 25, I joined another group of go-getter women at Capital Area United Way’s Women United Rooftop Social on the fabulous landscaped rooftop at Taylor Porter’s downtown offices where I visited mother and daughter Amy Singletary and Emerald Roney. I also got to reconnect with Talia Jackson, wife of Southern baseball coach Kerrick Jackson.

Email Pam Bordelon at pbordelon@theadvocate.com.