Keeping the fight alive

HANAPEPE — Elaine Morita was feeling the strain during Saturday’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life at the Hanapepe soccer fields.

“I’m getting tired,” said the retired Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital employee, while surrounded by her daughter Cheryl and many friends, many of whom were employees of Mahelona. “I needed a walker to make the round. I’m coughing a lot more because my lungs aren’t that strong anymore.”

Morita was one of many cancer survivors who helped open the Relay for Life, an international fundraising campaign to raise funds and awareness to end cancer. Kauai’s event, held at the Hanapepe soccer fields, joined the world’s largest and most impactful event in the fight against cancer.

“Are you getting anything from Kapaa High School?” Cheryl, a teacher at Kapaa High, wanted to know. “I wanted to go to the game tonight, but I needed to be here.”

Others had to juggle schedules around the Kauai Interscholastic Federation boys volleyball game.

“I’ve got to do the game,” Tori Kagawa, a Waimea coach for the junior varsity team, said earlier in the day. “When we get back from the game, I’m heading to Hanapepe where I will be walking for Peter Kruse’s team.”

Event coordinator Terri Kaniho of the Kauai Community Federal Credit Union said there were 61 teams registered, although not all the teams set up camp sites to stay overnight. According to the Kauai ACS Relay website, 63 teams with more than 650 participants raised more than $204,000 by Sunday.

“As of Friday night, we were still a little short of goal,” said Patti Ornellas, the Kauai American Cancer Society coordinator. “If all of the teams can raise at least $1,300 to $1,500 at the relay, we should be in good shape.”

Ora Tashiro, who was helping at the West Kauai Hongwanji tent, said the group was No. 2 with a goal of $15,000. That was led by Laurie Tateishi, who pushed for sales of Chinese pretzels during the recent Hanamatsuri, or Buddha’s birth, services.

“I think we’re No. 2,” said Vianne Tabata, wife of acting county engineer Lyle Tabata, at the county’s tent. “But we sold out of our steak plates already. At $10 a plate, that was quite a bit.”

Tiffany Dodge of the Aloha Dance Studio also manned a tent at the site where luminaria were lit in honor of those who succumbed in their fight against cancer.

Her dancers offered a special opening number as a preview of the studio’s upcoming competition on Oahu, and also provided a special luminaria lighting performance.

The American Cancer Society will host the Relay for Life of North Shore on Aug. 19 starting at 6 p.m. on the grounds of the Kauai Christian Academy in Kilauea.

Info: 245-0695.

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