Mahelona residents ‘celebrate life’

KAPAA — A resident’s diagnosis of cancer triggered other residents into action at Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital.

“One of the residents was just diagnosed with cancer,”  said Josie Pablo, recreation director. “The other residents wanted to help and said they wanted to walk to raise awareness and funds. It is National Breast Cancer Month and that is why we’re doing it in October.”

Katie Burleson of the American Cancer Society said it was a great idea.

“We are so delighted to have the Mahelona Walk to Celebrate Life as one of our virtual fundraising teams for this event,” she said.

Pablo said the Mahelona Hospital staff was originally planning to keep the event small, soliciting the hospital’s employees, families and volunteers for donations. But trying to contain the enthusiasm was a chore in itself.

“Melody Pascua, one of our residents, was telling everyone it was her walk,” Pablo said. “And people got on board. We were only going to do the walk this year, but I’ve already decided we will be doing this every year because of the community outpouring.”

Pablo said the support was so overwhelming they surpassed their original goal of $500, and donated around $1,500 to the ACS.

“The hospital staff was great,” Pablo said. “We had people here at 6 a.m. to set up the tents as protection for the residents, the Kauai Bus was great in helping us transport residents, and the engineering department even painted a golf cart pink using donated materials from The Home Depot and Ace/Housemart.”

Steve Kline and Jocelyn Barriga headed up a team from the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea, Mahelona’s sister hospital, in transporting its residents and staff to join the walk.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, which will be held on Oct. 12 at Richardson Field on Oahu, is celebrating its 5th anniversary in Hawaii.

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