Team of the Week

Team Broadway Boobies
 

A young woman’s passion to spread breast cancer awareness to her peers

Kara Eldridge lost her mother to breast cancer in 2000.  In the ensuing years, she educated herself about breast health and was able to inform friends — women in their 20’s — about breast cancer prevention.  “To be able to empower my peers with the kind of knowledge fueled the fire in me to finally step up and talk about my mom and do whatever I could to reach my peers who seemed to think they were indestructible,” she explained.  She created Team Broadway Boobies in 2008.  Last year, the team had 45 members and, in the past three years, has raised over $24,000.  This year, the team’s fundraising goal is $10,000.

Team Broadway Boobies - Team Pic #2.JPG

Team Broadway Boobies members mug
for the camera..

Eldridge’s mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in the summer of 1997.  She had heard of the Race but had never gone until her mother invited her.  “At the time, she was pretty weak,” she remembered.  “We didn’t even finish the walk — we actually cheated and cut to the finish line.”  The next couple of years were a blur.  After her mother died, Eldridge panicked several times thinking she might have the disease too.  But, years went by with her never talking about her mom’s illness and what the experience had been like.  One time she asked her friends what they thought a breast lump felt like.  “They looked at me dumbfounded,” she said.  “One even laughed and said why? We’re only 27.”

That’s when Eldridge decided to do a three-day breast cancer walk.  Later, she held a “Pink Party” for about 30 friends with breast health information, including a sample breast to demonstrate what a lump feels like. A week later, her best friend came to her after feeling something in her breast.  It turned out to be just a cyst, but she thanked Eldridge for educating her on what to look for in a breast self exam.

The next year, Eldridge started the team.  “What I thought would be a handful of friends ended up being nearly 25,” she said.  Members included people she knew in the theatre industry — actors, directors, musicians, singers.  The name is a play on the song Broadway Baby from Follies.  The back of the team t-shirt mimics a Playbill title page listing those whom team members celebrate and remember. Each name added this year was of a survivor.   The diverse group includes men and woman as young as six through people in their 40’s.  Membership has expanded to include people from other industries including marketing, advertising, care giving and, even, dentistry.

Eldridge not only lost her mother to the disease; her paternal grandmother and great grandmother also fought it.  Eldridge and her sister recently learned that they are positive for the breast cancer gene.  “We both consider it a blessing,” she said.  “Now we actively go in for several checkups a year to make sure we’re clear.  A number of team members joined to support Eldridge, but others have mothers undergoing treatment right now.  “When my mother was sick, I didn’t know anyone who had a similar experience,” she recalled.  “After four years as a team, we have essentially created our own support group.  It’s a solid group of people committed to spreading awareness and helping each other.”

The team has no specific recruiting strategy.  Eldridge is open with people she meets, telling them about her mother.  “I’m passionate about spreading awareness for prevention and education,” she said.  Since many of the team members are artists with limited incomes, it has an annual Karaoke for the Cure to spread the word and raise funds. This year’s event took place at the Red Lion in Greenwich Village. Because of their theatre connections, team members have been able to acquire raffle prizes like dinner at Sardis and The Palm, as well a tickets to Broadway shows.  This year’s prizes included a round-trip ticket on Jet Blue.

When asked about a favorite Race memory, Eldridge countered with a favorite Race tradition.  After the Race, the team goes to brunch together.  “It’s the best way for old friends to catch up and new members to get to know the veterans,” she said.  “I’ve seen some wonderful friendships come out of those moments. We’ve become a family now… a family that will keep on growing