Grantham pens first message of hope

LIHU‘E – The American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” is still weeks away, but Mary Williamson of The American Cancer Society is already excited.

Nancy Grantham, a cancer survivor, was given the honors of signing the first message of hope on the Wall of Hope banner along with Kirk Nakamoto, District Manager for the Bank of Hawai‘i.

Williamson said that the Wall of Hope banner will eventually make its way to join about 5,000 banners from different Relay of Life events nationwide.

This display will take place on Sept. 19 and 20 when Williamson, one of two Hawai‘i ACS staff members, and Peter Kea travel to Washington, D.C., for the “Celebration on the Hill.” Williamson said she felt priveleged to be one of the two ACS staff members selected to make the trip.

Williamson said they’ll be taking the banner with them where it will go on display at the Capitol Mall along with banners from other ACS Relay for Life events.

Starting with Grantham’s message Monday, Williamson said people will have several opportunities to pen their messages on the Wall of Hope banner.

Bank of Hawaii, a statewide sponsor of the Wall of Hope, will be having their employees pen their messages, and the banner will be posted at the May 6 Relay for Life event at Hanapepe Stadium.

“People can come down to write their messages there,” Williamson encouraged. “We will be working to fill the banner with signatures and messages between now and September.” “We invite members of the public to come to the Relay for Life event on May 6, and have their voice heard in Washington by signing their message on the banner,” Williamson said.

Additionally, this year’s event is special for Kaua‘i because Williamson said a photographer who does the national ACS work will be on Kaua‘i to photograph the Kaua‘i event at Hanapepe Stadium to be included as part of the ACS Annual Report.

Williamson said that the Kaua‘i Bus will be offering rides to Hanapepe Stadium from the various neighborhood centers to encourage more people to come to the event. She asked that people who want to take advantage of this program to contact Susan at 332-7766 to reserve a seat on the bus.

“We want as many survivors and fighters to come out for the Relay,” Williamson said. “Nationally, about three percent of the population are cancer survivors, and on a small island like Kaua‘i, that number becomes significant.” A special reception for cancer survivors will precede the opening leg of the Relay, and Williamson encouraged all survivors to attend the event.

The first leg of the Relay is the Survivors Walk and will kick off the all-night event starting at 6 p.m.

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life is a fun-filled overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship as well as raise money for research and programs for the ACS.

Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, is credited with giving birth to the Relay for Life when, in an attempt at enhancing the income of his local ACS office, spent 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.

During the 83 miles he logged during his marathon, friends paid $25 to run, or walk for 30 minutes with him. The result was $27,000 raised to help fight cancer as over 300 of Klatt’s friends, family, and patients watched the surgeon run the course.

This gave birth to the first Relay for Life event in 1986 where 19 teams took part in a team relay event to raise $33,000.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) and dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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