by: Jesse Inman, Ozarks First (Photos and additional information by Scott McCaulley)
At some point over the last 20 years in the Branson area, you may have heard Janet Ellis greeting you on the airwaves of KRZK.
Known as the morning voice of Branson, Ellis was diagnosed with breast cancer last fall.
For as ugly a thing as cancer can be, the amount of enthusiasm Ellis has had in her fight against it has been a beautiful thing.
Performers and long-time listeners gathered Wednesday night at Dick Clarks’ American Bandstand theater to show support for someone who has been such a positive figure in the area for so many years. Members of the Branson High School Theater Department, Clay Cooper, The Lennon Sisters, the cast of Grand Country, Bucky Heard, Tony Orlando, Ryan Pelton of Legends in Concert, Billy Yates appeared at the event hosted by Janet’s former radio co-host Steve Willoughby.
Those who have been in the area for years — like Lynn Berry with the Branson Chamber of Commerce — were in attendance for Ellis’ benefit in her fight against breast cancer.
Berry was there to help pick up somebody who has done the same for the community for about two decades.
“She starts your day with a smile you can hear through the radio,” Berry says. “So many people are so used to hearing Janet say good morning. She has made a difference in a lot of peoples’ lives, and we are here to say thank you to her, and help her get over this little hump.”
After being diagnosed with breast cancer last October, Janet underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and is now in radiation. That’s a lot to go through but if you ask Janet how she feels…
“I feel great,” says Ellis. “I feel like there is a mission, I’ve got a purpose. I’ve got things to do.”
While Ellis has received an outpouring of love and support from her friends and listeners through her battle with breast cancer, her mission is what she may be most thankful for.
“One of the main messages I’ve gotten is ‘We’re with you , we’re behind you, we love you Janet’, and I’ve also heard people say, ‘Because of you, I went to get my mammogram. Because of you, I got a checkup. Because of this thing I was feeling that wasn’t right it made a difference in my health,'” says Ellis.
Berry says its time for the community to give back to Ellis.
“What I would say to Janet Ellis is you have made a difference for so many of us, please let us help you in this time of need,” says Berry.
Though the benefit was in her honor, Ellis was just looking forward to a good time.
“I wish it wasn’t about me, yet I am grateful that it is about me, but I am going to sit back and enjoy the show,” says Ellis.
The event was put together by her Friday co-host Josh Clark, and it raised almost $4,500 through donations and a raffles — including a 50-50 raffle, with half of the money going to the winner, and half going towards Ellis’ treatment costs.
It ended up being a total of $1,400 on the 50-50, but the lucky winner donated their half of it back to Janet for her medical expenses.
The Video Report by Jesse Inman of Ozarks First: