LAHAINA - On Feb. 16-17, more than 500 students and their chaperones gathered at the War Memorial Complex in Wailuku to participate in the 11th annual Maui Youth "Relay for Life" coordinated by the Lahainaluna High School Student Council.
LHS Student Activities Coordinator Art Fillazar served as the relay advisor for the event, with Lahainaluna student Junna Gazmen as the general chair assisted by Leslie Garo.
Of the 47 relay teams from schools across Maui, Lahainaluna formed 25 of those teams with more than 250 students participating.
Lahainaluna High School student participants include: front — Ellen Mateo; back row, from left — Rana-Ann Sarian, John Cedrick Espejo, Arlnjy Fontanos, Dyanne Ramoran, Jereene Agbayani, Patrick John Duarozan and Ericka Agbayani.
All together, students across Maui raised over $44,000 for the American Cancer Society. Lahainaluna contributed over $23,000 of that amount.
The event was themed "Stayin' Alive" and opened with a ceremony welcoming everyone to the relay, with the first lap led by survivors and caregivers. Survivors and caregivers were then honored with a reception dinner hosted by the Saint Anthony High School National Honor Society.
Lahainaluna chose to dedicate the event to former school custodian and alumni Glenn Fujimoto and honorary prom queen Olivia Bianco, who both recently lost battles with cancer.
The event also honored Lahainaluna student Elmarie Dagupion, who spoke about her experiences with cancer. This was followed by a very touching luminaria ceremony that honored those who have lost their lives to cancer as well as survivors.
During the evening and into the early morning, participants were entertained by "To Illest and Beyond," a Lahainaluna dance crew; "7:00 am Band" from Maui Preparatory Academy; and "West Maui Kajunkenbo" led by Lahainaluna student Ho'o Cabanilla.
Relayers were also given the opportunity to participate in various events such as Zumba, Cross Fit, themed costume dress-ups for every hour, a Stayin' Alive Contest, and a Karaoke Contest headed by the Lahainaluna STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math) lab led by Jon Shigaki.
A Wellness Tent hosted by Lahainaluna's HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America), headed by advisor Malia Shimomura in cooperation with the U.H. Maui College Nursing Department and Stephanie Franklin, offered information and activities throughout the event.
At the end of the relay, awards were given out. The top individual fundraisers were Kelsey Shultz and Amanda Matsuda from Lahainaluna. The top three teams, "ICancer5" with Captain Kelsey Schultz, "Ivy League" with Captain Ivy Tejada and "Lifesavers" led by Captain Joline Badua, also were from Lahainaluna High School.
Run Down Cancer winners were "We Can Survive" with Captain Patrick Duarozan and "Best Buddies" led by Captain Keiliann Tuipulotu. The Best Decorated Tent for General Theme went to "ICancer5" for the third year in a row.
The Maui Youth "Relay for Life" and the American Cancer Society remind everyone that the "journey to end cancer starts with a single step."
Participants at a relay event are given an opportunity not only to "honor cancer survivors and remember loved ones lost, but also to raise awareness and what we can do to stay well from cancer and raise money to help fuel the world's largest walk to end cancer." To join a relay, call 244-5553.