Lahaina community to rally in the fight against cancer at the Relay for Life of West Maui on Saturday
LAHAINA – Since 1998, West Maui has participated in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life movement to celebrate people who are battling cancer, remember loved ones lost and take action in the fight against cancer.
Relay for Life is the world’s largest fundraiser to support cancer research, education and prevention efforts, and free programs and services for people facing cancer in the community.
No one understands how vital these services are more than Lahaina resident and cancer survivor Pearl Vierra, who utilized the American Cancer Society Clarence T. Ching Hope Lodge Hawaii.
Hope Lodge Hawaii is a free place to stay for Maui cancer patients who need to fly to Honolulu for treatment. The lodge allows patients to focus on recovery rather than the financial burden of travel expenses.
“The staff at Hope Lodge were so helpful – the insides of the facility are first-class. That’s why I have the passion to relay, for programs like Hope Lodge that helped me. It’s been a journey since I got diagnosed, and I’m grateful to the Lahaina community for supporting cancer survivors like me,” said Vierra.
Dick Sargent of Sargent’s Fine Arts & Jewelry is also a cancer survivor and the first 2017 sponsor of Relay for Life of West Maui. Since his diagnosis in 2004, he has been an advocate for cancer education and awareness.
“West Maui Relay has been fighting back for over 20 years, and we’ve made progress. These days, the younger generation can get more check-ups to detect cancer early and have a higher chance of survival,” said Sargent.
Relay for Life of West Maui will take place on Saturday, Aug. 19, from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Lahaina Recreation Center at the corner of Shaw Street and Ipu Aumakua Lane.
Survivors and caregivers walk a lap together at 5 p.m., followed by a special dinner to honor them. At 8 p.m., there is a Luminaria Ceremony in which lighted bags line the track to remember loved ones lost to cancer.
West and South Maui Sen. Roz Baker is scheduled to share her story as a cancer survivor at the ceremony.
“It’s important for survivors to know that their community cares about them and celebrates the success of their cancer journey,” said Baker, when asked what the event means to her.
“It’s uplifting for the survivors to take the first relay lap to cheers and applause of community members lining the track. We survivors are demonstrating that together we can beat cancer! That’s a powerful message.”
Baker feels very fortunate, as her cancer was detected early. With surgery, she was cured 41 years ago.
“I know that other cancer journeys mean chemo and radiation and are quite arduous. I’ve lost too many friends and loved ones to cancer; I have many friends who are survivors, but cancer left an indelible mark on their lives,” she explained.
“I don’t want to see any more suffering or loss of life because of cancer. That’s why I relay, and that’s why I volunteer with the American Cancer Society – for better cures, treatments and more survivors!”
Jackie Favors, the marketing and public relations chair for the West Side benefit, became involved with Relay for Life four years ago to give back to the community, “and because I truly believe there is a cure for cancer and want to help in anyway possible.”
“Cancer has impacted my life, as I have lost family and friends to this disease; and now I am walking side-by-side with a very close and dear family member as they fight their journey,” Favors added.
There are 22 teams registered to participate in the Relay for Life of West Maui, including The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, the Presenting Sponsor.
These teams fundraise in the months leading up to the event and then take turns walking or running around the track as a commitment not to rest until there is a cure for cancer.
The theme this year is “Carnival,” with food, games and entertainment for the whole family. The event is free and open to the public to attend.
Sen. Baker said the community can join the fight against cancer by attending the Relay for Life on Saturday, making a donation to the American Cancer Society for more research and to help fund Hawaii Hope Lodge, joining the ACS Cancer Action Network and advocating for good health policy at the federal and state levels, and organizing a team for the 2018 Relay for Life.
According to Favors, “Our community can join and help fight cancer by becoming more aware and involved with education, preventative tests, possible changes in lifestyles and talk story with family and friends to help save lives from this disease.”
For more information, visit relayforlife.org/westmauihi. To register as a survivor or caregiver and receive a complimentary dinner and T-shirt at the event, contact the American Cancer Society-Maui Office at 244-5554.