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'Tutus' have raised more than $1 million

Special Photo. Members of the group "Tutus for Tatas" wear skirts made of ribbons honoring friends and family members that have battled breast cancer. Since 2005, the group has raised more than $1 million for breast cancer research.

Special Photo. Members of the group "Tutus for Tatas" wear skirts made of ribbons honoring friends and family members that have battled breast cancer. Since 2005, the group has raised more than $1 million for breast cancer research.

DACULA — Barb Mock’s tutu has too many ribbons on it. Far too many. But that’s why she does what she does.

The costume designer turned mastermind is the leader of one of the most successful groups in the history of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. Her “Tutus for Tatas” group has eclipsed the $1 million mark, raising all that money for breast cancer research over a six-year span.

The Tutus wear, well, tutus while walking each year. Pink ribbons represent survivors. White ribbons represent “angels,” the friends, relatives or co-workers who have lost their fight with breast cancer.

More than 100 ribbons hang from Mock’s well-worn tutu.

“One out of every eight women fight with breast cancer,” Mock said. “Our team has 78 members. That means 10 of our group could essentially get diagnosed in our lifetime. And that’s horrid.”

Few current members of the close-knit crew are actually survivors — only “four or five” this year, Mock estimated, with many coming and going in the past. But, she’s quick to point out, that actually points more toward the prevalence of the life-changing disease.

“It speaks hugely about the community we live in, that the people support us in every way,” said Mock, who lost her stepmother to breast cancer in 2002. “Everyone is touched by it. You can’t talk to someone and not have them say, my mother, my sister, my cousin, someone I work with just got diagnosed.”

Christel Bethea, a Lawrenceville resident, is a three-year survivor and a first-year Tutu.

“When you think about that we’ve come together and made such a contribution to the 3-day and trying to find a cure, it’s mindboggling,” she said. “It makes you realize that people really do want to be able to find a cure for this.”

Since their inception in 2005, the Tutus have grown to a current tally of 78 members. Through events like their annual golf tournament, 5K road race (held Saturday in Lawrenceville) and fashion show (Oct. 9 in Buford), Tutus for Tatas is one of few race teams that have hit seven figures in fundraising.

What started as a way to “make it fun” has turned into a good-doing juggernaut.

“The first time I walked it, it was life-changing,” Mock said. “It made me realize that I was part of something bigger than myself. When you’re there for those three days, it makes you feel like it’s the world how it should be.”

That first time Mock went to the 3-day Race for a Cure in Atlanta, she went as a loner, “blind” to the whole experience in the wake of her step-mother’s recent death. A idea born out of her profession and a hope that “a couple girlfriends would walk with me” has turned into so much more.

“I’m absolutely just blessed to be part of a team that’s just done some amazing things,” Bethea said.

For more information on Tutus for Tatas and their upcoming events, visit www.tutus-for-tatas.com.