Not only is cancer a devastating disease, its effects on a family’s budget also are significant. In many ways, the entire situation is exacerbated when the person with cancer is a child.

A western Kentucky charitable organization helps families who have a child battling cancer. That’s where two upcoming events play a significant role and participants can support the organization in honor of a Lyon County resident.

Owen Matthews is a 10-year-old boy who attends fifth grade at Lyon County Elementary School. His parents are Chase and Jennifer Matthews. His sister, a freshman at Western Kentucky University, is Sarah Spurlock.

Owen and his family realize they are not alone in their battle with cancer and all of that battle’s accompanying challenges.

A major resource is Book for Hope. Gay Lynn Hayden of Paducah, with roots in Caldwell County, battled cancer herself. She wrote a children’s book about a child with cancer and created an organization — Book for Hope. Its goal is to help families battling their child’s cancer so that they are not losing their everyday things, because they’re already facing a very difficult situation with cancer itself.

Book for Hope, headquartered in Paducah, does not pay medical bills for families. Instead, it gives an emergency envelope to every family who has had a pediatric oncology social worker complete an application and send it to Book for Hope’s email address:

The envelope contains a $150 pre-loaded Visa card, a $50 restaurant card, and a $50 gasoline card. The following month the family submits a bill to Book for Hope in their name to pay for things such as: house/rent payments, utility bills, phone bills, auto insurance, vehicle payments and repairs, and other necessities.

Not only does Book For Hope pay monthly bills for families with a child undergoing cancer treatments, it also donates a portion of proceeds to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn.

Book for Hope will host its first “Dancing for Gold” event Thursday, Feb. 6, 2021, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Paducah Convention Center. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

The organization has eight people who will participate in a dance competition in honor or memory of a child who has been attacked by childhood cancer.

“I got involved in this because there is going to be Dancing for Gold in February and since Owen is a monthly recipient, they needed a Lyon County representative,” said Lindsey Bridges. She was Owen’s teacher a couple of years ago. “So, Amy Perdue, who was our Lyon County Elementary School principal last year, asked me to be that representative. I said sure, even though I didn’t really know much about it. The more I’ve gotten involved, the more my heart is in it. I love Owen and his family.”

“I was privileged to serve as principal for Owen the last six years and he’s an extremely special young man,” said Perdue, now director of elementary instruction in the Lyon County Schools. “Owen’s family is very special. His mom is a volunteer in school and always eager to help and very generous with teacher appreciation. They are just a top-notch family. Any challenge in life, they are overcomers. They shine the light.”

Another way to support Book for Hope’s Dancing for Gold for Owen Matthews offers participants many things. It’s a co-ed slow-pitch softball tournament for adults, and a kickball tourney for kids. It is scheduled for City-County Park in Princeton on Oct. 24. It features three brackets of kickball — elementary grades 3-5, middle and high school brackets. Times will be based on number of teams participating. Concessions will be available, including hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, and barbecue. There will be a silent auction and participants even can wear Halloween costumes, if they like. Tee-shirts are $15-$20 each, based on size, including for adults and children. “If anyone would like to order,” Bridges said, “they can email me at”

Hayden said she is grateful for this February event’s volunteer dancers, who are fundraising for their $10,000 goal. Go online to to support a favorite dancer, such as “Book For Hope Lindsey Bridges: For Owen Matthews.”