24-hour fight against cancer

  • Photo courtesy Dylan Thomas

    Dylan Thomas paddles on Hanalei Bay, in this 2015 photo.

  • Photo courtesy Dylan Thomas

    Paddler Mark Schulein paddles at Newport Harbor in Southern California, in this 2018 photo. Schulein is part of a Kauai team that will participate in the 2019 Monster and Sea 24-Hour Paddle on April 13 in Hanalei.

  • Nick Celario / The Garden Island

    Local paddlers Dylan Thomas, left, and Kirsten Hermstad stop for a photo Friday in Kilauea. Both Thomas and Hermstad are part of a Kauai team that will participate in the 2019 Monster and Sea 24-Hour Paddle on April 13 in Hanalei.

KILAUEA — A group of local paddlers will be part of a nationwide 24-hour paddle-out in an effort to fight against cancer next weekend.

The local group, named Team Kauai 24, is participating in the 2019 Monster and Sea 24-Hour Paddle on Saturday, April 13.

Members are Dylan Thomas, Michelle Thomas, Wes de Silva, Lynn Ham Young, Kirsten Hermstad, Angie Bresnahan and Mark Schulein.

It is the first time a team from Kauai will take part. While also participating, the group is fundraising money to be donated to local families that have been affected by cancer.

Who will receive the money is to be determined.

“We know it’s families that’s dealing with cancer. The individual participants get to decide where it goes and deliver the money in-person to the families,” Hermstad said.

For Hermstad, in addition to helping local communities, her desire to help those batting against cancer runs deep.

About 20 years ago, her father, Bill Hermstad, died from melanoma. He was 56.

“When my dad was sick, the doctor said, ‘He’s sick, but you’re both dealing with it. You’re both dealing with this illness,’” she said. “This is an opportunity for us to not only support the person, who’s having to fight, but also the family and give them what they need. They need to travel, they need groceries, whatever it is they need. It’s not just the individual that’s receiving these funds. It’s all the people that are being affected.”

The 24-Hour Paddle started five years ago with one team on the mainland. This year, it’s expected about 200 teams around the US and Canada will take on the water to help other families fight cancer.

Dylan Thomas added he, too, has seen loved ones succumb to cancer.

“These days, it’s rare not know someone you know that’s dealing with this. In my case, we lost a very good friend last year,” he said. “She was also a member of the Hanalei Canoe Club. Very highly-regarded, a wonderful water woman. It was a real sad loss for us as friends and ohana. And then my brother-in-law, my sister’s husband, also has been through it. He’s finally on the tail-end of it, the clean-end hopefully, for the last two years. Yeah, so we’ve all been — if not immediately, then indirectly — associated to it. I’d like to be involved for that reason.”

Team Kauai 24 plans to paddle out on the Hanalei River near the Hanalei Canoe Club hale.

For 24 hours, at least two members will go out in tandem and paddle one-hour shifts. At some points, though, the entire team will paddle together.

Both Thomas and Hermstad said they got a group together to participate in the 24-hour paddle after Schulein, who they said has participated in the event previously, told them about it.

“Mark has done this before. He’s out of Southern California, and he has already participated three times. This will be the fourth time,” Thomas said. “The day of the event is when he’s on Kauai. He spoke to me and said, ‘Would I be interested in getting a team together and do this fundraiser?’ Yeah, instantly sold. So, Kirsten and I started talking, and I hustled up a couple of other paddlers who I know in the paddling community.”

The Kauai team will begin on 8 a.m. April 13 and will end on 8 a.m. the following morning.

There is some concern about paddling in the dark, but both feel they’re experienced enough to handle it.

“Between all of us, we’ve all crossed the channel,” Thomas said. “(We’ve been on that water) hundreds of thousands of times. We’re ‘competent’ is the best word. We’re not elite or expert, but we’re competent.”

They welcome others to paddle with them, though they’ve advised that additional paddlers cannot stay at the Hanalei Canoe Club hale. They can be identified wearing red shirts with a large 24 printed on it.

They added they plan to annually participate in the 24-Hour Paddle on Kauai.

To donate to Team Kauai 24’s fundraiser, go to www.gofundme.com/teamkauai24

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Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or ncelario@thegardenisland.com.

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