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So, all the moments of preparation – the rehearsals, the fashion fittings, the photography, the video shoots – have come down to this:

All 19 models in Saturday night’s Puttin’ on the Pink style show – each one of them, a cancer survivor – are lined up backstage at the LaSells Stewart Center, nervously enduring the last hour or so before showtime.

Meanwhile, in a dressing room just off a backstage corridor, the show’s master of ceremonies, Oregon State University women’s basketball coach Scott Rueck, works on a bit of business involving a tear-away pair of pink basketball shorts he’s planning to wear on stage over his tuxedo. In the bit, he’s got to rip away the shorts – like a stripper might do – but as he works on this, the back of the shorts keep catching between his legs.

If he pulls it off, so to speak, it’ll be a funny bit that will rock the house of nearly 500 attendees.

But for Rueck, the cause behind the bit is serious business. “Breast cancer awareness is a big part of women’s basketball,” he says, as he works on the shorts gag. “I love this cause.”

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Money raised during the Puttin’ on the Pink show helps support The Corvallis Clinic’s Project H.E.R, which (among other programs) aims to connect newly diagnosed cancer patients with cancer survivors who can serve as mentors.

The survivors reported to the LaSells Stewart Center on Saturday morning, so by the time the show officially begins at 8 p.m., it’s been a long day. And the first model isn’t due to hit the runway until 8:30, so the last half-hour backstage offers a potent mixture of jitters and exhaustion.

But then Rueck takes the stage, resplendent in his pink basketball shorts – and nails the bit with the costume. The crowd hoots.

And then the first two models, Dave Gilbert and Alanna McPartlin of Corvallis, strut down the runway. The music booms. The crowd – by this time, lining both sides of the runway – cheers, applauds, claps along with the music. Each of the models unveils a signature move – and, backstage, each model is greeted with high fives, hugs and occasional tears.

“As soon as you see the crowd, all of your nerves go away,” says Sally McAfee of Albany after her stint on the stage – and so do most of the moves you worked on during rehearsal. “You just do what comes in the moment.”

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