With a sell-out crowd on hand, the 7th Annual Pink Ribbon Gala was a success.

With a sell-out crowd on hand, the 7th Annual Pink Ribbon Gala was a success.

The gala - which was held on Friday, July 20 and at a new location at Indigo Sky Casino Resort - was a major fundraiser for Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks (BCFO).

The gala included a catered dinner, live and silent auction items for the cause.

One of the attendees was Stacy Cook.

"We have attended this event for several years," she said. "It is a tremendous event. It brings in a lot of money for 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.

 

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.

Cook said she has had a family member with breast cancer and had lost her life to breast cancer.

"She (Stephanie) was my husband's brother's wife," said Cook. "Stephanie was diagnosed in January and died under two years after she was diagnosed. She was diagnosed and died before the age of 40, she left behind two young children - a son and a daughter."

Cook said the gala is an amazing event.

"It is just an amazing event, it raises a lot of money for breast cancer," said Cook. "I think that it is just wonderful."

Mammograms

"Getting a mammogram is important," Cook said. "They say when you reach the age of 40, that you should have a mammogram, but you can do self checks, there is a 'Buddy Check through Freeman (Health System)' that you can do. I think that it is very important that women do self checks and then absolutely have mammograms."