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Paddle for Life brings message of hope to Maui County cancer patients and survivors

By Staff | Sep 7, 2017

In the ninth annual Paddle for Life on Oct. 7-8, 400 dedicated paddlers and supporters will make a 36-mile, round-trip open ocean journey across the ‘Au‘au Channel from Lahaina to Lanai to benefit Pacific Cancer Foundation. PHOTO BY BARRY FRANKEL/ISLAND FRESH PHOTOGRAPHY.

WAILUKU – There are few words that carry as much emotional weight as “cancer.” We all have been touched by this dreaded disease in some form – whether personally or through family members and friends – and we all want to fight back.

It’s in that spirit that 400 dedicated paddlers and supporters on Oct. 7-8 will be making a 36-mile, round-trip open ocean journey across the ‘Au’au Channel from Lahaina to Lanai to benefit Pacific Cancer Foundation (PCF).

This year’s event will be the biggest in PCF history.

Teams from Maui, Lanai, the Big Island, Oahu and Kauai will represent the Hawaiian Islands for this year’s paddle. There are also paddlers from both the west and east coasts.

Individual paddlers will be flying in from Germany and Dubai to participate in this year’s event, as well as a team of paddlers from Calgary, Canada.

“When I was diagnosed 13 years ago, I was sure that my life was over,” said survivor Joanne Lozynsky from Calgary, Canada.

“Then, after a whole lot of treatment, I found paddling canoeing, dragonboat and outrigger canoe. And I have become a huge proponent of EiM (Exercise is Medicine). There is much about Paddle for Life that reflects a cancer journey: ‘one stroke at a time,’ ‘a supportive team,’ ‘not a race but a voyage.’ And we demonstrate that even though we’ve been touched by an ugly cancer, we are not pushovers! So, this year, I paddle in honor of my own difficult, but unfinished, journey. I paddle in honor of my friend who finished her paddling/life journey last Sunday, June 25. And I will participate in Paddle for Life 2017 because I love to paddle.”

There truly is a remarkable parallel between an ocean paddling voyage and the journey experienced by cancer patients and survivors. Both involve tremendous physical, mental and emotional strength. Both require patience and perseverance. And, ultimately, it takes a team to make the journey successful. It’s in that spirit that community organizer and paddling icon Kimokeo Kapahulehua created Paddle for Life. He continues to serve as event chairperson, bringing his passion, expertise and vision to this important fundraiser.

The integrity of Paddle For Life rests in its deep connection to Hawaiian culture and tradition. All 24 canoes arrive in Hulopoe Bay together and approach the beach holding the mile-long lei.

Paddlers, led by Kapahulehua, chant to ask permission to land on the island of Lanai. Kupuna Kepa Maly, senior vice president of culture and historic preservation for Pulama Lanai, will chant to welcome the paddlers to the beach.

“The people of Lanai have helped tremendously organizing our event! I can’t thank them enough. It seems the whole island is offering their support,” said Nancy La Joy, Pacific Cancer Foundation executive director.

Paddle for Life is made possible by the generous financial support of The Safeway Foundation, the event’s title sponsor, whose partnership with PCF has helped improve the quality of life for Maui County cancer patients, survivors and their families.

Other sponsors include Servco Subaru Maui, Pulama Lanai, Four Seasons Resort Lanai, SGS Hawaii, Equity One Real Estate-Alysha Sparkman Realtor, Pau Vodka, the R.E.A.P Foundation, The Schuller Family Foundation, Nordic PCL, Nalu’s Restaurant, Coconuts Restaurant, Prison Street and Serpicos Pizza.

“Our goal this year is to raise $150,000. Our paddlers are working overtime to reach their goal! We are so thankful for the generous contributions of all our many sponsors. The people of Maui and Lanai are joining together to make this a special event for our cancer patients, survivors and supporters. We couldn’t have done it without them,” said La Joy.

Paddler and supporter Barbara Ruberto from Team Berney said, “Paddle for life, paddle for love. Donate because you care.”

Pacific Cancer Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by a group of concerned health care professionals and cancer survivors.

PCF serves the Maui County community by providing access, knowledge and support to those affected by cancer in Maui County.

All of PCF’s services are provided at no charge, and 100 percent of the organization’s operating revenues stay in Maui County to help Maui County residents.

For more information, visit www.pacificcancerfoundation.org or call (808) 242-7661.