Coach's and Cowboy's is known for being a raucous good time, but Tuesday night saw an event there unlike any other. Half-naked firefighters strutted their stuff for hundreds of people, modeling extravagant handmade bras on the dance floor at Coach's, 8374 Paluxy Drive in Tyler.

Each bra was decorated as intricately as if it were a float in a parade. The firefighters were paired with a partner hefting around massive gift baskets and helping them work the crowd, pumping up the bids for their bra and basket combos.

The Tyler Women's Council of Realtors hosts the event each year as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Proceeds benefit the Tyler Firefighters Care Fund, other local fire departments and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Last year's event raised between $20,000 and $30,000. Event chairwoman, and past president of the TWCR, Cindy Covalt, was confident they could break that record.

"Every year it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger and the bras get crazier and the baskets get crazier," she said. "I really think that it's going to be bigger than (last year)."

For Covalt, the event is personal. She is a six-year survivor of breast cancer.

"If you don't catch it early enough, it's a death sentence," she said. "We're just trying to raise awareness. If we can convince just one woman that she needs a mammogram, then we've done our job."

Red Springs firefighter Derek Kastning was excited to hit the runway for his second time. He said his colleagues didn't have to try too hard to convince him to join last year.

"Breast cancer is a major thing. It costs a lot of money for the research and to get rid of it," Kastning said. "I have a daughter and I don't ever want her to go through it."

Kastning worked the crowd first with a bra from Cork Food and Drink - made of wine corks - and later with Goosehead Insurance's namesake stuck to his chest.

The firefighters were competitive, each trying to one-up the last in order to raise the most money.

Lap dances, selfies and push-up contests were just a few of the tactics they employed to keep the crowd screaming. Bids quickly began exceeding $1,000, giving the event a healthy shot at shattering previous fundraising goals.

For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/qa449f5.

 
 

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Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on The Murder Tapes, Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.