Connie Rutledge was diagnosed with stage IIIC Ovarian Cancer in January of 2007. At the time of her diagnosis and during the course of her treatment, Connie made three important discoveries.
The first was that the vast majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer know little or nothing about the disease. The fact is most women are not diagnosed until they are in advance stages because they did not have any awareness of the symptoms that could have alerted them to their illness. Even though ovarian cancer accounts for approximately three percent of cancers in women, it causes more deaths than any other gynecological cancer.
Secondly, women in treatment for ovarian cancer often are faced with devastating financial burdens. During Connie’s three and one half years of treatment, she became acutely aware of and moved by the financial hardship women and their families faced because of their illness. She was determined to find a way to provide financial support.
Third, Connie was driven by her unwavering belief that there is hope for a cure through the dedicated work of Regional Cancer Research Institutes.
In the fall of 2009 Connie began contacting family and friends to help her with her idea to form a foundation. “I’ve decided,” Connie said, “I’m going to do something”. That something was to create a foundation whose mission would be to provide awareness about ovarian cancer, direct financial support to women in treatment and hope through grants to Regional Cancer Research Institutes. With courage and determination Connie poured all her energy and strength into laying the ground work for a non-profit foundation. At the same time, knowing the foundation could not fulfill its mission without funds, Connie again reached out to family and friends and the community to help organize a fundraising event. On March 13, 2010 the Ovarian Cancer Community Outreach was formed and on August 9, 2010 OCCO held its first annual golf outing fundraiser “Tee up for Ovarian Cancer”. Her efforts led to a successful event that rose over $23,000.
Connie passed away of ovarian cancer on September 16, 2010. With the enthusiastic support of the community and the professional guidance of an all volunteer board of directors, the work of the foundation she created continues. On November 9, 2010 OCCO made its first donation of $5000 to the Regional Cancer Research Institute at St Vincent’s Hospital, Green Bay, WI. At the same time OCCO allocated $2000 for direct financial support to women in treatment for ovarian cancer. On December 28, 2010 OCCO was awarded its 501(c) (3) non-profit status to become Ovarian Cancer Community Outreach, Inc.
“I’ve decided,” Connie said, “I’m going to do something.”