The Capital Ovarian Cancer Organization (C.O.C.O.) was founded in August of 2007, in memory Debi Furnish, who died from ovarian cancer in 2005. Around the same time, another woman from Frankfort, Ellen Liebman, died from the disease. Debi’s sister, Beverly Van Houten, and her friend, Jerri Robinson, decided they needed to raise awareness of the disease so that no woman has to ever go through what Debi and Ellen went through. As Beverly recalls, “My friends and I got together and decided that we wanted to form an organization – especially for the awareness part.” C.O.C.O.’s mission is to raise awareness of ovarian cancer in Frankfort, Kentucky’s capital city. Given the organization’s mission of raising awareness of ovarian cancer, volunteers from C.O.C.O. attend many expos and health fairs to talk about the disease.
C.O.C.O. focuses much of its awareness efforts in September during National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. During September, C.O.C.O. blankets Frankfort with teal balloons, hangs banners along Capitol Avenue and Broadway, and rents three billboards with a raising awareness of ovarian cancer. In 2015 these billboards had a “Kick it Up” theme, complete with cowboy boots. C.O.C.O. even gets the Capitol dome lit in teal for the entire month of September. In the summertime, in conjunction with the downtown Frankfort summer concert series, C.O.C.O. gives away balloons and pamphlets about ovarian cancer at the concerts. A friend of Beverly’s who owns Harrod Concrete & Stone, painted one of the company’s concrete trucks teal with C.O.C.O.’s logo on it. “It’s become a moving billboard for the organization,” Beverly says.
C.O.C.O.’s signature event is its Tee It Up golf tournament, now in its 9th year. The fundraiser brings the community together, with more than 100 golfers attending, to help raise money for ovarian cancer research and education programs. The 2016 tournament will be held on September 20th, at the Frankfort Country Club.
In addition to awareness efforts, C.O.C.O.’s mission also focuses on contributing to ongoing research for a cure for ovarian cancer. Through events like Tee It Up, C.O.C.O. helps fund research and education. Kentucky is fortunate to have one of the nation’s premier ovarian cancer research programs at the University of Kentucky. In 2015, C.O.C.O. gave $12,500 to this program. Since 2009, C.O.C.O. has awarded over $62,500 in research funding the University of Kentucky ovarian cancer screening program. This research award is presented to the researchers at the University of Kentucky in April during C.O.C.O.’s annual Celebration of Life. This event is open to the public and brings together members, survivors, and advocates.
From just a few women whose lives had been touched by ovarian cancer, C.O.C.O. has grown to nearly 100 members in just 9 years. Together, these volunteers help ensure that all women in Frankfort area learn about ovarian cancer and its signs and symptoms.
Click here to learn more about the Capital Ovarian Cancer Organization!