About the Rare Chair Affair

The Rare Chair Affair features the most unique and moving voice auction of any event in the area. Each year, we invite 15 to 20 breast cancer survivors to participate in workshops throughout the summer to paint and decorate chairs for this event’s live auction. The voice auction is the highlight of the evening and is truly a celebration of the joy and spirit of survivorship! It reminds us why WBCC and its dedicated volunteers do the work we do.

Rare Chair Affair History

In 1999, a new fundraising idea was brought to the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition by Victoria Vonier of the Private Gardener, a gardening store in Milwaukee. Her idea was to hold a “chair”ity event using decorative chairs.

Members of WBCC then set forth to bring this one-of-a-kind “chair”ity event to reality. With the help of a Milwaukee advertising agency, the event was named The Rare Chair Affair and the event’s tag line – Bid Farewell to Breast Cancer was coined. A logo was designed with a flowing pink ribbon in the form of a chair. Asking breast cancer survivors and local artists to paint and decorate chairs for a voice auction completed the idea. Local artist, Kyle Zubatsky, has also volunteered her talents in assisting and inspiring the survivor artists to create their masterpiece chairs for the voice auction.

The first Rare Chair Affair was held in September 2000 and was hosted by Victoria Vonier at the Private Gardner in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward and expanded into the adjacent warehouse and firehouse. The event not only included the live auction of the beautiful chairs, thanks to the generous donations of several Southeastern Wisconsin merchants, a silent auction, great food, and live entertainment completed the enjoyment of all who attended. The event was so well attended in fact, that a few hundred people had to be turned away! The first year’s event raised $30,000.

The second Rare Chair Affair was held in 2001 at the Renaissance Place on Milwaukee’s east side. The success of the first year continued as it brought in over $60,000 in donations. The Rare Chair Affair has been held at venues around the Greater Milwaukee area, including the Pfister Hotel, the Renaissance Place and the Wisconsin Club, and in recent years has featured the wonderful talents of auctioneer Daniel Pronley.

Although the Rare Chair Affair has always been a fun and exciting event, we keep in mind our main focus — the mission of the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition, which is to bring passionate Wisconsin voices together to stand up and speak out about breast cancer through:

  • Legislation – Influencing policy-making
  • Education – Spotlighting critical breast cancer issues
  • Collaboration – Empowering through strategic alliances


See photos and read biographies of our Survivor Artists.