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Hundreds celebrate cancer survivors in Lihu‘e

LIHU‘E — The weather cooperated on Saturday afternoon at the north Vidinha Stadium soccer fields, as the orographic precipitation was held to the mountains and a cooling wind bathed the hundreds of people who joined cancer survivors in celebrating their victories, efforts of caregivers, and raising funds to continue the fight against cancer at the American Cancer Society Kaua‘i Relay For Life.

“This is great!,” said Kaua‘i Relay Coordinator Kittrin Cade, who flitted between the more than a dozen team tents, the Relay Entertainment Coordinator Mary Lardizabal and event emcee Bernard Carvalho Jr., who joined Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i Zumba leaders on stage for more than an hour of energizing exercise.

“We raised more than $67,000 entering the field. We had anticipated raising $5,000 at the relay, but we’ve surpassed that in the first hour,” said Cade.

Participating teams — many of which are engaged in fundraising efforts throughout the year — included the ‘ohana from Alaska Airlines, LLC and Friends, the Kaua‘i Lions Club, which has members who are survivors, and Sign Art Kaua‘i.

EJ’s Babes, the Purple Palooza and Team Sam Jacinto hawked the ball-through-the-hoop contest that netted a stuffed animal premium. Kaleo Carvalho of the mayor’s office provided floral decorations for several of the participating team tents.

The North Shore Christian Fellowship offered prayers for anything else beside cancer, and Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i, besides leading the energizing Zumba, was set up as Seussland and offering pasteless stew for sale. Happy Together was among the sea of tents that relay participants found after entering the soccer fields through an American Cancer Society arch.

Kaua‘i Hospice was set up as B’wana, anchored by the culinary finery of Dr. Robert Weiner and ‘ohana offering “medical grade” burgers.

Sushi Bushido had the honor of Pete the Cat tending his white shoes, and the Minion from the Hawai‘i Government Employees Association joined Winnie the Pooh (and Hey-Hey the Chicken from Kaua‘i Hospice) in walking the circle formed by luminaria remembering those who could not make the event.

Team Kaua‘i Kia‘i joined the Kapa‘a High School teams, including the school’s National Honor Society with chaperone and advisor Kara Kitamura still counting the results of the honor society’s penny drive.

Sgt. Ian Versammy had Kapa‘a High School JROTC cadets involved in presenting colors during the opening ceremonies, and then retiring to do laps around the luminaria. They were joined by Kapa‘a High School football player Nash Burkhart, who returned a punt for a touchdown in the Warriors’ 63-7 win over St. Louis II at the earlier nonleague football game at the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapa‘a.

The Relay For Life is described as the world’s largest volunteer-based fundraising event that started 36 years ago when Dr. Gordon “Gordy” Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington, to raise money to help the American Cancer Society with the nation’s biggest health concern — cancer.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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