Plans are underway to build a breast cancer center on the West Side after the Barbara Bates Foundation raised $500,000 at recent fundraiser.
The Barbara Bates Foundation Breast Wellness Center will be located at Mount Sinai Hospital, 1500 S. California Ave. thanks to more than 500 people, who early last month attended the third annual Knocking Out Breast Cancer Fashion Show.
Barbara Bates, founder of Chicago-based Barbara Bates Designs, said all the models at the event were breast cancer survivors.
Next year, Bates will celebrate her 30th anniversary in the design industry and said she is not sure what the next chapter in her life will be.
“I’m open about what comes next but I want to make sure the center is up and running for the community,” said Bates.
She added that she is considering taking her “fighting with fashion” event on the road to continue raising money for causes close to her heart.
And the funding also means black women with cancer will have a place to go that provides information and treatment for breast cancer, said Karen Teitelbaum, president and CEO of Sinai Health System.
“We could not have had a better more committed partner than Barbara,” added Teitelbaum. “Sinai has never forgotten its commitment to the community and neither has Barbara. “
The emcees for the fashion show were veteran black journalists Robin Robinson and Val Warner, and Fashion Fair provided free make-up services for all the models.
A Chicago-native, Bates graduated from Marshall High School in 1972, and in 1984 she began selling her clothes during her lunch breaks while working as a secretary for the former First National Bank of Chicago.
By the mid 1908s, Bates said an investment of $5,000 from a client allowed her to ditch her daytime job for a fashion job. Initially, she began with a small staff, consisting of a husband-and-wife sewing team, who churned out her designs just as quickly as she could dream them.
But in 1988, Bates opened a 700-square foot showroom. These days, Bates oversees a diverse staff in a sprawling design studio in the city’s South Loop.