Relay celebrates life

HANAPEPE — Saturday was a special day for Robert “Bob” McDermott at the Hanapepe soccer fields.

“Today is his birthday,” said Leona McDermott-Sa, his wife. “He’s a two-time cancer survivor and celebrating his birthday today. American Cancer Society is all about celebrating birthdays.”

Robert and his family were among the hundreds of people who turned out Saturday night, braving the cold northerly winds to celebrate the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

The event opened with a Survivors’ Lap, celebrating their triumph over cancer.

“There was not a dry eye in the Pinocchio camp,” said Mary Pigao, mother of a Kauai High School cheerleader. “I wanted my video, but it was in the car. When the survivors passed the camp, the girls all had tears in their eyes. For the four or five new ones — who never did Relay before — it hit them, hard.”

The survivors were joined by caregivers, and the various 41 teams who took up the Disney theme to set up camp around the circle of luminaria representing “those who left ahead of us.”

“This is a celebration,” said Sherry Abigania Matthews, a 1994 graduate of Waimea High School who came back from California to deliver a luminaria message. “Normally, I’m dressed in my military uniform when I deliver messages like this. I get to hide behind my uniform. Tonight, I’m in my regular clothes — no uniform, nothing to hide behind. We celebrate the triumphs with everyone who is fighting cancer. For those who left ahead of us, we celebrate them. Fighting cancer is a celebration of life.”

Patti Ornellas, the American Cancer Society community manager, Relay for Life, said the goal for this year’s Relay in Hanapepe was set at $237,000.

Upcoming events benefiting the American Cancer Society include:

w the Bark for Life on June 3, from 7 to 11 a.m. at the Hokuala property; and

w the North Shore Relay for Life, which will take place at the Waioli Park in Hanalei on Aug. 12 from 3 to 11 p.m.


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