Cancer Society Relay for Life is this weekend

Some 50 teams are planning their weekend around participation in the eighth annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Saturday from 6 p.m. to Sunday at 6 a.m., at Hanapepe Stadium.

The event celebrates hope in the fight against cancer, said Mary Williamson, executive director of the American Cancer Society Kaua‘i office.

Over $115,000 of the $140,000 goal has been attained through various fund-raising efforts, led as of yesterday by Connie’s Fighters and Survivors, an extended Westside ‘ohana that had raised over $16,000 as of yesterday.

The Kauai Medical Clinic ‘Ele‘ele clinic was second, with over $10,000, and three teams have raised in excess of $7,000 each, she said.

Corporate underwriters have already taken care of all the expenses, so what teams raise goes right into the fight against cancer, she said.

Larry Bowman of Falko Partners and Valley House, Starwood Resorts, Syngenta, Signature Linings of Hawaii (truck bed-liners), Grantham Resorts, Bank of Hawaii, Carlozzi Charitable Foundation, Aqua Engineers, Kauai Community Federal Credit Union, Inter-Island Helicopters, Kauai Inn and Mokihana Travel Service, Kawailoa Development, Princeville Corporation, Pyramid Insurance, Vidinha Charitable Trust and Big Save are among the corporate sponsors, and several of them are new to the Relay for Life this year, she added.

The general public is invited to the stadium, to listen to the live entertainment, take part in some country line dancing, watch movies on a huge, inflatable screen from midnight to 4 a.m., light candles in memory of cancer victims, patronize team food booths, and otherwise hang out, Williamson said.

Entertainers include Nick Castillo, the Papaa Bay Boys, The Starlighters, and others.

Relay For Life is the ACS nationwide signature event, and on Kaua‘i the co-chairs of the island’s largest slumber party are Gini Martin and Frances Denny.

They call it “an inspirational and fun way to increase cancer awareness, while raising money for a cause that touches us all.”

Relay is not a typical walkathon. Team members take turns on a grassy track for the duration of the 12-hour event. Teams form months ahead so they have time to raise funds in many creative ways.

At press time, around 50 teams had registered from businesses, clubs, youth groups, churches, extended ‘ohana, restaurants, groups of friends, hospitals and clinics, unions, military groups and county departments.

More information is available at the ACS office in St. Michael & All Angels’ Episcopal Church at the corner of Hardy and ‘Umi streets in Lihu‘e, on the Web at www.acsevents.org/hi/relay/kauai, or by calling 245-2942.

Participants pitch tents or tarps, enjoy music and potluck, and alternate between having fun and snoozing all night long.

Program highlights are the survivors’ walk (the first lap after the blessing), caregivers’ lap (the second lap), and parade of teams at 6 p.m., and a luminaria-lighting ceremony and blessing at 8 p.m.

A wellness gallery offering vital health information and showcasing American Cancer Society programs will be open throughout the event. The relay store offers logo items, toys and cookbooks, all to benefit the event.

Everyone will join in a victory lap at daybreak but, symbolically, as there is no finish line until there’s a cure, Williamson said.

Volunteer Val Rivera calls Relay for Life a “huge support group for cancer survivors” because the first lap is walked only by those who have fought or are fighting cancer.

They can walk, ride in wheelchairs, or simply stand along the track with their families. Starting at 5 p.m., survivors and patients can pick up special ribbons and refreshments at a designated survivors’ tent, where harpist Carmen Dragon will perform during a survivors’ reception.

New this year, The Kaua‘i Bus will pick up survivors and seniors at neighborhood centers.

The luminaria ceremony at nightfall is a candlelight vigil to honor people who have experienced cancer, including survivors, those currently fighting illness, and those who have died.

Each of the luminaria, votive candles in white bags, has a name on it. Thousands of candle dedications are purchased by Kauaians in the names of friends and loved ones.

Luminaria will be available on site, and many of the bags have already been decorated by art students at Kapa‘a and other elementary schools.

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