HANAPEPE — Hundreds of people poured onto the Hanapepe soccer fields Saturday evening as the curtain rose on the 30th anniversary of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.
“On this 30th anniversary, this is a time to remember loved ones who didn’t make it,” said Nadine Nakamura, the county’s managing director. “This is a time to show support for all those who are battling cancer, and it’s also a time to celebrate those who have won the battle.”
Arnold Albrecht of Koloa is one of those survivors who won.
“I beat the odds,” said Albrecht, who described himself as the oldest paddler on the island at 77. “I’ve been cancer-free for 11 years, and this is the first year I’m here at the Relay after one of our paddlers discovered I was a cancer survivor and signed us up.”
Entering the afternoon, there were nearly 60 teams registered to participate, securing pledges for more than $150,000.
The ACS Relay for Life is the world’s largest fundraising event to end cancer, uniting communities across the globe to celebrate people affected by cancer.
“I’m going to bring this back to Guam,” said Sun Martos who was embraced by Fely’s Angels, a veteran team at the Relay. “I’m a survivor for 16 years, but my daughter, Uri, who lives on Kauai, is just starting her fight after being diagnosed four months ago.”
Josie Pablo of the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital also formed a team for the first time.
“When she found out my mom Elaine walked alone last year, she cried,” said Cheryl Morita. “My mom has been fighting a rare cancer since 2006, and after coming back in 2012, there’s no cure. She just wants to live her life to fullest with no sickness.”
Pablo said there were 40 people, including 10 residents who made the trek to Hanapepe for the overnight campaign against cancer.
Another ACS Relay for Life on the North Shore is scheduled for Aug. 21 in Kilauea at the Kauai Christian Academy.