Bel Air woman fights breast cancer with bras

Even in the midst of finalizing the details for her upcoming wedding, Katie Walls, 24, found a spare moment to support the fight against breast cancer.

Walls is the mastermind behind Bras for a Cause, an initiative which donates bras to women at local shelters and raises money for the Patricia D. and M. Scot Kaufman Cancer Center, a part of the Upper Chesapeake Health System.

With the initiative in its second year, Walls asked her family to pitch in to help make sure Bras for a Cause remained successful. Last year, she donated 2,200 bras and raised $5,000 for the cancer center.

"I'm getting married on the 19th, so my parents have been helping me out," Walls said in an interview last week. "They collected the first drop-off of bras yesterday."

She said her fiancée, Matt Hargrove, 24, does not know anyone who has battled with cancer, but is supportive of her cause.

Walls, however, knows the impact of cancer well. Her grandmother lost her battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a lymph tissue cancer, in 2002.

"I had just turned 13 when she passed," Walls said. "It really bothered me to watch her go through it and we didn't have any place local for her to go [for treatment]."

Walls said Bras for a Cause has set up boxes at Bel Air area Royal Farms stores for women to drop-off gently used and new bras. Throughout October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women can drop off bras.

On Nov. 2, Walls said she will count the bras and string them along Route 1 to help spread awareness about breast cancer. She said the bra line is very "attention grabbing."

"When women go into shelters, they normally don't have anything other than the clothes on their back," Walls said. "I think undergarments isn't really something people think about when they donate clothes."

After the event, Walls will wash the bras and donate them to area women's shelters. For every bra collected, her family-owned dealership, Plaza Ford, will donate $1 to the cancer center. Walls said this year her goal is to raise $10,000.

The young philanthropist said she grew up involved in charity work and volunteering. Walls said her family frequently did mission work and helped the sick at local area hospitals.

"My parents were really into helping out my entire life," Walls said. "We always did mission work. It was kind of taught to me as a kid that you help out other people in need."

Walls said unlike many other breast cancer events like the Susan G. Komen runs, her initiative gives all types of women, athletic and non-athletic, a chance to participate in the movement.

"This way, you are also cleaning out your drawers," Walls said. "It gets people involved through the back door."

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