Ovarian cancer affects seemingly countless families, yet it rarely gets the attention it deserves, according to one official.
The Kendra's Voice — Race to Be Heard event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 8 at Deer Mountain Events, 7717 Contran Road in Ozark, and will help raise awareness for ovarian cancer, said Jim Garvey, one of the race directors. The all-ages event will include a 5K race, a 10K race and a 5K Fun Walk, he said.
"All of it happens on Deer Mountain Events, which is a privately owned property that is beautiful," Garvey said. "It's a beautiful, scenic course on paved trails that run through the forest at Deer Mountain Events.
"There are some hills, too," he added. "There's a lot of great views of the surrounding countryside.The scenery is spectacular."
First held in 2013, the event will raise money for Kendra's Voice, an area organization that was named after the late Kendra Gail Beard-Bailey, an Ozark native who passed away in late 2011, and offers information and programs on ovarian cancer, Garvey said. The race hopefully will make more people aware of Kendra's Voice and the seriousness of ovarian cancer, he said.
"September just happens to be Kendra's birthday month and Ovarian Cancer Month," Garvey said. "Kendra was only 27 when she was diagnosed. She was an athlete and in perfect health — she was a basketball player for Harding University in Searcy, and she lived her final days in the Little Rock area — but ovarian cancer struck her and took her. You just never know."
Kendra's Voice was established two years later and holds the mission to "eradicate ovarian cancer as a life-threatening disease by enhancing educational opportunities; to stress the importance of early detection and treatment; and to improve women’s knowledge of ovarian cancer so they can be proactive against this disease," states the Kendra's Voice: Teal Silence is Broken Facebook page.
"We are hoping to raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000 from the event; that is what we typically shoot for each time," said Jeff Beard, who is Kendra's brother and serves as a board member for Kendra's Voice and a co-director for the race.
"Ovarian cancer is kind of a silent killer; it doesn't really come up in check-ups," he added. "One of our big things is awareness. To get people to think about it, that's a big win for us. We're about awareness and prevention — catching it early."
Beard described Kendra as "a real people person" who frequently was surrounded by friends and relatives.
"Out of the three of us siblings, Kendra always had friends over," he said. "Any time we would go on vacation, Kendra was bringing friends along."
About 200 racers and walkers are expected to participate in this year's race, Garvey said. Last year, 180 racers and walkers attended, he said.
Registration is $25 through Aug. 31 and $35 up to the morning of the event. Registration can be completed at the Kendra's Voice: Race to Be Heard Facebook page.
The event also includes homemade ice cream and an awards ceremony. Awards will be given to the top three participants in each age division, Garvey said.
"Ovarian cancer is something that affects so many people, but it seems to me that it doesn't get a lot of attention," he said. "Ovarian cancer is one of the leading causes of death for women. We're just trying to help people understand that ovarian cancer is out there and it's serious."
Beard echoed Garvey's words.
"We've had people say that they actually went out and asked for a check-up, especially after Kendra passed away," Beard said. "Ovarian cancer typically runs at a higher age group, but it doesn't always do that. Kendra was 28 when she passed away, so it doesn't always mean you have to be older to be affected by ovarian cancer."