Relay celebrates survivors, combats cancer

HANALEI — More than 25 teams will pitch tents against Hanalei’s majestic mountain backdrop July 30 for the 2011 Relay for Life July 30.

The American Cancer Society’s signature event has residents fight the ongoing battle against cancer with 12 hours of camping, walking and fundraising.

Live entertainment, informational booths and “lots of coffee” will be available to participants.

“The theme I went with is ‘It Takes a Village,’” said Mickey MacMillian, who chairs the event. “I felt like that when I moved here with my children. I felt like it takes a village to raise a child, and I loved that about the North Shore community.”

MacMillian, who works in the Infusion Center at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, has been involved with Relay for Life for six years.

“I want more people to realize it does take a village to help support someone with cancer,” she said. “It’s a really good time to have people see who in their community has been touched by this disease.”

Among the 25 teams participating, members of the Kapa‘a High School football team will raise money for The Dean Team. Headed by Monty Downs, the Dean Team is named after their football coach, Dean Petro, who was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.

“We wanted to get the younger people to realize that this is what’s out there,” MacMillian said. “It’s time to plant that seed of prevention.”

MacMillian listed smoking, obesity and lack of exercises as some of the lifestyle choices that can increase the risk of cancer.

During the relay, participants are staying up from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. without sleep and continuously walking.

MacMillian likened the race to someone who is going through chemotherapy treatment: “When the sun goes down, it starts getting dark and people are getting tired. That’s how people going through chemotherapy feel. Then, all of sudden the sun comes up, and it’s a new day.”

During the July 30 event, medical professionals will lead discussions about health topics, including colon health, breast cancer, sun safety, obesity and diabetes. Attendees can get up close and personal with a colon via guided tours of an inflatable colon.

There will be live music from The Quake and The Black Pearl, plus crafts, face-painting and healthy foods available. 

During the traditional Luminaria Ceremony, which will begin when the sun goes down, around 8 p.m., candles will be lit in honor of those who are battling cancer or who succumbed to the disease.

Jerry Hashimoto will lead the Fight Back Ceremony to encourage people to stay strong during their fight against cancer. Hashimoto was diagnosed with throat cancer three years ago. At the time of his diagnosis, his doctor predicted he would have three months to live, MacMillian said.

This is the third year the event will be held in Hanalei, and the committee’s goal is to raise $50,000.

Council member Mel Rapozo, who is a member of Team Karl, posted on his Twitter and Facebook account that if his team raises $5,000, he will shave his head at the event.

The public is invited to attend any of the ceremonies, and teams can sign up through July 29. The committee is still accepting volunteers.

The relay begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 30, and ends at 6 a.m. the following day.

The event takes place Wai‘oli Town Park in Hanalei.

“If you never experienced Relay for Life before, you got to come,” MacMillian said. “It’s magical.”

The Teen Team will be hosting a garage sale from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at 5882 Ahakea St. in the Wailua Homesteads.

All money raised at the sale will be donated to Relay for Life.

People are invited to drop off items to be sold between 2 and 7 p.m. today. For more information about the garage sale, contact Darcy at 652-4549.

Visit www.RelayForLife.org/Hanaleihi for more information.

• Andrea Frainier, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 257 or afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.

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