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Rainbow of bracelets offer support.

Byline: Lewis Taylor The Register-Guard

For Reyn Yeager, one rubber bracelet just wasn't enough.

The 12-year-old seventh-grader from Eugene wears four different wrist bands - a pink band to benefit the search efforts for Brooke Wilberger, plus a white, blue and gray trio of bracelets by Nike to benefit ... well, to benefit basketball player LeBron James' bank account.

"I had a LiveStrong bracelet, but it snapped," Yeager said, referring to the ubiquitous yellow band for cancer research that started the whole phenomenon.

"I wear Brooke because I think they should find Brooke and LeBron James because I think he's a good basketball player."

Not since Madonna wore an armload of black jelly bracelets in the 1980s have rubber wrist bands been so popular. The yellow band that became a cultural phenomenon last summer after champion cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong wore one has now been joined by a spiral of imitators. The clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters started offering it's own line of colored bracelets to promote teen volunteerism, and a rainbow of rubber wrist bands are appearing to support causes across the country.

There are pink bands for breast cancer awareness, red bands to support the fight against tobacco use and "pink sizzle" What Would Jesus Do? bands aimed at church groups looking to raise money.

"We're flattered by the imitations," said Michelle Milford, a spokesperson for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which recently reached the milestone of selling 20 million yellow bracelets.

"We would never want to get in the way of other organizations using our idea to support really worthy causes."

Oregon has its own version of the band for a good cause in the pink Brooke Wilberger bracelet. The bracelets are printed with a Web site address and a toll-free tip line. They've been impossible to keep in stock at the Family Tree Bookstore in Eugene.

"They're everywhere except for in here," said owner Norm Smith, who sold 3,000 bracelets in two weeks and hopes to have another shipment in before Thanksgiving.

Justin Hall, 19, a student at Lane Community College, wears a Wilberger band to support the search efforts. He says the LiveStrong bands have become too popular.

"I see so many people wearing them," he said. "I would never wear one."

Kathryn Downey, 22, on the other hand, says the yellow bands continue to raise money for cancer research. She wears a bracelet given to her by her father, who ordered 100 of the $1 bracelets from the Lance Armstrong Foundation Web site, where there is currently a three-week shipping delay.

"I'm a supporter of Lance Armstrong. I've followed him throughout his career," Downey said.

Nike, which claims the rubber bracelet phenomenon started as a basketball fashion trend, also carries a line of hoops-inspired bands. Along with the Lebron James bands worn by Yeager, the company makes a line of bracelets stamped with the Nike swoosh and words such as "Respect" and "Baller."

Colorful versions of the black jelly bracelets Madonna used to wear are also back.

Last year, the wrist bands became the subject of an urban legend after TV stations began reporting that junior high school students were using them as a code for different sexual practices. Some schools in Florida even went so far as to ban bracelets.

At the downtown clothing store Deluxe, owner Dagua Webb sells jellies and other styles of bracelets. She sees wrist bands as part of a larger trend.

"Accessories in general are really popular right now," she said. "I think they're really an easy (way) to make a distinctive statement."

Yeager, the bracelet-wearing 12-year-old, isn't the only one in his family who's making a statement with his wrists.

His father Stoy, his mother Carol and houseguest Shino Akaoka have all put on pink Wilberger bands, and when their order for 10 LiveStrong bracelets arrives, they'll be wearing yellow bands as well.


Bracelets supporting various causes are a growing fashion trend.
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Title Annotation:General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 14, 2004
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