SPRINGFIELD — More than 1,000 people attended the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks (BCFO) Hooked On Dance Fundraiser which is devoted to raise funds for breast cancer patients in Southwest Missouri.

SPRINGFIELD — More than 1,000 people attended the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks (BCFO) Hooked On Dance Fundraiser which is devoted to raise funds for breast cancer patients in Southwest Missouri.
The fundraiser was held on Friday, Oct. 6 at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield.
"Our organization exists to provide help and support to those facing breast cancer diagnosis," said Crystal Webster, executive director of BCFO. "What we are best known for is our financial assistance program for someone going through an active breast cancer treatment. And we do provide assistance for rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, car repairs, to name a few, we also have the children's fund that addresses the special needs of children in the home. Many times these kids would otherwise go without school clothing, without school supplies, without eye glasses, and even holiday gifts."

About BCFO
The Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks is a resource for individuals and families in Southwest Missouri who are impacted by breast cancer. The foundation offers personal support and comfort in real and practical ways, providing support networks, mentor programs, a full range of resources regarding breast cancer awareness, diagnosis and treatment where to find related community services and more.
Each year, fundraisers have been held both in the Joplin, Springfield areas and even in Seneca.

Programs available
BCFO has several programs to help those dealing with breast cancer during different stages of the treatment and recovery.
• The financial assistance program provides short-term, non-medical financial assistance to those in the BCFO service area, who are in current treatment for breast cancer with demonstrated financial need. Assistance has been provided for one or more of the following financial obligations: rent or mortgage, auto repairs, utility assistance, auto insurance, propane for heat and auto payments.       
• BCFO provides free screening mammograms to qualified applicants through qualified medical centers throughout Southwest Missouri. Free screening mammograms are provided to uninsured and underinsured women who meet BCFO’s financial criteria.  This program covers screening mammograms only.
• BCFO offers assistance to children of families impacted by breast cancer through the children’s fund. Financial assistance is provided on a case-by-case basis and has included help toward: school supplies; childcare; clothing; holiday gifts; orthodontic continuation.
• Support Groups and Mentoring Programs offered.

History of BCFO
Kristen O’Brien Hardy came to Springfield after graduating from school in Florida. Kristen was newly married and looking forward to starting a family in the Ozarks.   Kristen found a lump in her breast when she was 27 years old but was told she was too young to have breast cancer. When Kristen did consult a surgeon, the diagnosis of breast cancer was made one year after her initial inquiry regarding the lump. Linda McAllister, a business associate and friend of Kristen’s, knew Kristen had no family in the area and was in a terrible emotional state about her diagnosis and prognosis. Linda felt the support of other survivors in the area would be helpful to Kristen. Mary Beth O’Reilly met Kristen at Kristen’s first chemotherapy treatment. They became good friends. Mary Beth introduced her to other survivors of breast cancer who became friends with Kristen through her long battle with the disease. On Dec. 18, 1998, Kristen O’Brien Hardy lost her life to recurrent breast cancer at the age of 31. Kristen’s friends and family who desired to make memorial contributions on her behalf wanted funds to be available to assist others dealing with breast cancer. They also wanted the funds to stay local. At that time, there was no vehicle to ensure that their contributions would go directly back into the community. In May 1999, Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks was established to provide help and hope to local families impacted by breast cancer. The first contribution was made by BCFO founder, Mary Beth O’Reilly, and matched by Kristen’s surgeon, Joni Scott, MD, in tribute to all the patients Dr. Scott has treated for breast cancer. Other breast cancer survivors and friends of Kristen have made donations in her memory as well. Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks incorporated on Feb. 23, 2000, and received not-for-profit status the following year. Education on a variety of issues is an emphasis for BCFO because of situations like Kristen’s. She sought medical attention for a lump in her breast a year prior to her diagnosis and was told she was too young for breast cancer. Because of this and similar situations, there is a need to focus education on those under 40 as well as those over 40.

The banquet included a silent auction, a live auction and a catered dinner, along with music for entertainment.
"Hooked on Dance will raise more than $700,000 for those facing breast cancer," she said. "That sounds like a lot (money), of money to raise, but when you take a look at how much it cost to support an average of 350 families per year with the financial expenses that become a burden during breast cancer treatment. Each family literally receives thousands of dollars in assistance upon average."
BCFO is pleased to help the breast cancer patients.
"BCFO is blessed to have the support of very generous community members, individuals and businesses step forward each year to provide exactly what the foundation needs to extend the hand of hope and friendship to those going through treatment," she said.

By the numbers
•  BCFO has grown to covering 30 counties in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.