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'Pair' tree enhances support for breast cancer walkers
By Burt Constable | Daily Herald Columnist

To support the breast cancer walkers coming to the suburbs, members of the Doro family have decorated an Arlington Heights tree with soft form breasts. Here, Denise Doro, Sammie Doro, Rachel Doose, Alix Doro and Mary Ann Doro hang them on Friday.


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/7/2009 9:37 PM

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The "pair" tree in the Doro family's front yard is (as I can barely observe without chuckling like a 14-year-old boy) certainly uplifting, even if some of the homemade foam breasts it supports may sag a bit after a few hours in today's weather.

The thousands of walkers who will pass the breast-adorned tree during Day Two of the Chicago Breast Cancer 3-Day fundraiser certainly will notice the enhancement on this Arlington Heights street.

"That's a really good one," laughs Jenna Fromm, national spokeswoman for the 3-Day who should parade right past that tree sometime today. "That's one of the things I absolutely love about this event. It not only brings out the best in people, it brings out the most creative."

Consider it an inspirational payback.

"The last two years the walkers have gone by, and it's a total inspiration," says Denise Doro, 48, who cheers and high-fives the walkers as they pass her home on Douglas Avenue.

"You get tears in your eyes," says her mother-in-law, Mary Ann Doro, 73, of Schaumburg.

Doro family members have donated money to the cause, but walking the 60-mile pilgrimage takes time, training and money. In an attempt to "be involved without doing the walk," Denise Doro thought maybe they could decorate the pear tree in their front yard.

"When I said the words pear tree, it dawned on me," the mother of a pair of daughters says.

She immediately recruited her mother-in-law to stuff and sew soft-sculptured pairs of breasts to hang on the tree.

"Anything for this. It's a great cause," says Mary Ann Doro, who used pantyhose, stuffing and hours of sewing to craft 50 pairs of breasts. Working quickly, she could make three pairs an hour.

"Every time I started sewing, I just felt good," the grandmother says.

"I did two or three," says her beaming granddaughter Sammie Doro, 11, who learned how to sew all sizes and shapes of breasts.

Alix, Denise Doro's 22-year-old daughter, completes this three-generational effort by adding a humorous "Save Second Base" online campaign on her Facebook page. Alix Doro joined that effort after she read news stories about high schools that banned T-shirts sporting that slogan for being too risqué.

"I thought it was such an eye-catching way and fun way to raise awareness," says Alix Doro, who lives in Wheeling and works as a lease manager for an apartment complex. "My age group, it's hard to get them to understand breast cancer or to donate. This is my way to lure them in."

The "Second Base" breast bait already hooked a male friend of hers whose mother is a breast cancer survivor. "He's dropping off a check," Alix Doro says.

The Doros added personalized ribbon to breasts donated in honor of survivors or current cancer-fighters. They affixed a pair of wings to every pair of breasts made in memory of someone who died from the disease.

With Denise Doro's husband, Sam, helping to hang the breasts, and niece Rachel Doose, 15, of Zion, drawing a giant thermometer to chronicle the fundraising effort, the whole family has spent hours making and hanging the decorations, and passing out fliers trying to raise awareness and donations. The fliers open to reveal a picture of the phony, but still attention-grabbing, breasts.

"When my music teacher opened it up, she said, 'Wow!'" says Sammie, a sixth-grader who is a comedian in Dickinson's Little Vaudeville troupe and plays the clarinet. "But when she read it, she said she had a friend who passed away."

The family started with a goal of raising $500 for the breast cancer charities Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund, but now is thinking the tree (visit for more information) might help them raise $1,000. Last year's 2,300 walkers in Chicago raised $6.1 million.

While breast cancer is a deadly serious topic and the walk is about life, not body parts, Fromm says the effort needs the levity of breasts in a tree to "balance" the emotions of the weekend.

It certainly is a memorable pairing.

"Sometimes," Mary Ann Doro notes, "it takes a gimmick to get people involved."