hereforthegirls | 2015 June
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, June 30, 2015 | More Post by

Joshua Banks is a very busy man. He works full time as an X-ray/CT technician at Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk at night and by day he is the owner of Flex Your Fitness, a company that sells athletic apparel and sports products. He and his wife Cristina are parents to two active little girls, Savannah, 4, and her younger sister, Isabella, 8 months.

Joshua is also royalty. On May 9th he was crowned Mr. Breast Fest 2015 at the annual event held at Hunt Club Farms in Virginia Beach.

It all began when Flex Your Fitness teamed up with Juice Bar to hold a dance-a-thon to raise funds for Beyond Boobs!. Joshua decided to look into the group to find out more about who he would be supporting.

“The money donated to Beyond Boobs! is going to people who need the support,” Joshua said. “I also found out that one of the women who participates in a Flex Your Fitness boot camp is a Boober! and I have seen how BB! has given her great support. They are like family to her.”

So when Juice Bar’s marketing director e-mailed Joshua about competing for the title of Mr. Breast Fest 2015, he was all in. But then Joshua took a closer look at the details included in that e-mail. “I gotta do what?” In all of his excitement, Joshua had not noticed he would have to wear a bra and schmooze with attendees to win votes for the coveted title of Mr. Breast Fest 2015.

Even though Joshua works with patients every day and runs his own business, he still considers himself a shy person. And it was his first time wearing a bra.

“I had to let go of my shyness and shake it off,” Joshua said. “The event was a lot of fun. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. There was a hula hoop competition and a doughnut-eating competition. All of the guys competing had a blast.”

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Joshua pictured with co-founders Mary Beth Gibson and Rene Bowditch

In addition to showing the crowd he knew his way around a hula hoop and a doughnut, Joshua had to mingle with attendees and answer questions on the stage. “I was just being myself,” he said. “I was personable and interactive and I did my best. I think people paid attention when I talked because I am very passionate about the Beyond Boobs! mission.”

When the awards were handed out Joshua was nervous. He watched as a fellow contestant was named Mr. Congeniality and he applauded when the man who raised the most cash that day was named Mr. Money Bags. But as he watched his competition accept their awards he wondered what he had done wrong.

“After they gave out all the prizes I thought I had lost,” Joshua said. “I was about near tears. I was busting my butt out in the heat and I love BB! so much. Why hadn’t I gotten an award?”

When Joshua heard his name called as the winner of the Mr. Breast Fest 2015 title, he fell to his knees with joy. He was speechless as the crown was placed on his head and everyone crowded around him. All he felt was love.

“My celebration was to live in that moment,” Joshua said.

On the way home after the event he called his wife and told her that he had lost. “When I walked in the house with that crown on my head she was so happy,” he said.

Joshua takes his duties as Mr. Breast Fest 2015 seriously. “This is all brand new to me, so I am still feeling it out,” he said. “I have to show my face at BB! events and represent the group. I want to raise money and awareness and help out however I can.”

Joshua plans to sit down with the director of radiology at the hospital where he works to find a way for them to team up with Beyond Boobs!. In his job as a technician he sees a lot of patients who are suffering from the effects of poor health and he wants to help people live better, healthier lives.

“The mission of Beyond Boobs! is something everyone can relate to,” Joshua said. “So many people go without the help and support they need, but Beyond Boobs! fills that need. I have seen firsthand that breast cancer survivors and their families who need help get what they need from BB!. It is a community of positivity, and who doesn’t want to be a part of that.”

Category: Blog

, June 23, 2015 | More Post by

Joe Mazzaferro is the man responsible for introducing Beyond Boobs! to one of the group’s biggest supporters. Dressed in pink and black, every year she travels through the heart of the Beyond Boobs! nation, from Portland, Maine, to Jacksonville, Florida, urging women to perform self-exams for early detection of breast cancer. She’s racked up about 400,000 miles and weighs upwards of nine tons, but she shows no signs of slowing down.

Who is this busy beauty? She is Ma’am O’Gram, a bobtail semi-truck, so-called when she does not have a trailer attached. She is owned and operated by Diamond Truck Lines, LLC, and JRC transportation broker/agent Joe Mazzaferro. After Joe’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer he searched for ways to support the cause and help other women facing a similar diagnosis. An acquaintance put him in touch with Beyond Boobs! co-founder and executive director, Mary Beth Gibson, about three years ago.truck &  Boobers

“I wanted to give more than a monetary donation,” Joe said. “I wanted to establish a long-term commitment. I offered to have Mary Beth decorate one of my trucks and she helped develop the pink-and-black design and the message of early detection.”

Joe’s mom, Ida, is 82 years old and is a 12-year survivor. Although Ida now lives in Delaware, she has seen numerous photos of Ma’am O’Gram and even got to see the lovely lady in person and meet her driver, Charlie Nowicki. Ida has also been a recipient of the love and support Beyond Boobs! is known for.

“My mom spoke with Mary Beth about her diagnosis and what she went through, including her surgery and treatments,” Joe said. “Making that connection and having that support means a lot to her.”

Ma’am O’Gram typically travels up and down I-95 and through western Pennsylvania on I-80. Currently she is hauling glass used to make many different types of bottles. She elicits responses wherever she goes and people often approach Charlie to tell him their stories of survival, or those of friends or family members. One woman on the road was so enthusiastic about the message of early detection that she decided to lift her shirt and show Charlie her mammaries.

“I guess she wanted to let him know hers were healthy,” Joe joked.

And what does Ma’am O’Gram do when she isn’t delivering goods up and down the East Coast and spreading the message of early detection? After hours the highway heroine sheds her working-girl image and takes part in competitions. In 2012 she earned third place in the working bobtail division at The Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Texas.

“She’s a hardworking truck,” Joe said. “She doesn’t sit still.”

In addition to the decorated truck, Joe also supports Beyond Boobs! through donations and by purchasing sponsorships at events. Every year he dons a suit and tie for the Pink Carpet Gala, where the upcoming year’s A Calendar to Live By is unveiled and the calendar models are honored.

“The Gala is my favorite event because it is the grandest of all,” Joe said. “Everyone learns about the calendar models and hears their personal stories. There is a reason they put Kleenex on every table at the Gala. The stories are real and so touching. It’s not just a story in a book.”

Joe’s mom is not the only connection he has to breast cancer. His father’s mother passed away from breast cancer and his mom’s sister was also diagnosed. In an interesting twist of fate, the two women were diagnosed on the same day more than a thousand miles apart. When they spoke on the phone after their appointments to share their news they had no idea it would be the same devastating news.

“My mom was in Indiana and I was living in Williamsburg when she was diagnosed,” Joe said. “I didn’t feel like I was supportive enough. Before I teamed up with Beyond Boobs! I couldn’t talk with my mom about her breast cancer because I would just start crying. Now that I have heard all of the success stories, it isn’t as upsetting to talk with my mom. Mary Beth thanks me all the time, but I’m the one who’s thankful. Beyond Boobs! gave me my mom back.”

Category: Blog

, June 23, 2015 | More Post by

Since Father’s Day is June 21, we decided to dedicate the whole month to the fellas in our lives – husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. Whether they are offering words of encouragement, attending medical appointments, or donning a bra to raise funds for the cause, the men of BB! are stepping up to offer Boobers! their unwavering support.

In the weeks to come our BLOG will highlight the stories of several men in the BB! universe. Join us as we give thanks for the men in our lives and the important roles they play in treatment, recovery, and beyond. Let’s hear it for the boys!

Category: Blog