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Paddle for Life channel crossing to benefit Pacific Cancer Foundation

By Staff | Aug 25, 2016


LAHAINA – On Oct. 8, more than 200 cancer survivors and supporters will paddle six-person outrigger canoes across the ‘Au’au Channel from Lahaina to Lanai, a 34-mile round-trip journey, to raise funds for Pacific Cancer Foundation in the eighth annual Paddle For Life fundraiser.

Each paddler is asked to raise $150 in donations; however, most participants raise more, much like a walk-a-thon. The average amount raised by individual paddlers in the past is about $450, and last year one individual raised over $10,000 alone in donations. Participants may organize their own teams or be assigned to one.

The event takes place over two days, beginning at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, on Hanakao’o Beach Park in Lahaina with an opening ceremony and blessing before departure.

After arriving in Manele Bay on Lanai, the paddlers and their supporters enjoy a traditional welcoming ceremony led by Kepa Maly of Pulama Lanai and the executive director of the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center, and Kimokeo Kapahulehua of Maui. Paddlers then prepare for overnight camping and a celebratory dinner.

The following morning after breakfast, the crews paddle back to Lahaina to enjoy a commemorative lunch on the beach.

“We are very excited about this year’s event with this life-affirming journey that parallels the physical and mental challenges of surviving cancer. We are well on our way to meeting our $80,000 goal with over 200 paddlers traveling in at least 16 canoes, the largest in our history,” said Nancy La Joy, PCF executive director.

“We are so grateful to be working with Pulama Lanai to continue this wonderful annual event. We truly appreciate all of their support and kokua.”

Though the event itself takes place over just two days, training, fundraising and partnerships begin many months before, and the uplifting energy lingers far afterwards.

Almost half the participants are cancer survivors, and most everyone’s life has somehow been touched by cancer. Many paddlers take laminated photos in memory of loved ones or in honor of those in the midst of the battle.

In addition to monetary donations, all kinds of gifts have been streaming in from the Maui ‘ohana to support this year’s theme of nurturing health. Massage therapists will travel on the ferry to meet paddlers as they arrive on Lanai, healthful meals will be served, and access to yoga and Chi Gung classes, gyms and personal trainers are already in use.

“Mana’olana Pink Paddlers has participated in the Lanai voyage since its inception eight years ago. We train for months in preparation, bringing our team together as one strong ‘ohana. Paddle for Life is much more than a voyage on the ocean – it is a voyage of inspiration and empowerment for survivors and supporters alike to believe in themselves and find hope for their future. The voyage is truly a life-changing event for everyone involved, and I am honored to be part of it,” said President Mary Dungans.

The paddlers need all the support they can get from their community for this terrific endeavor. You can help support their efforts by visiting Pacific Cancer Foundation’s website at www.pacificcancerfoundation.org and registering as a participant, sponsoring a paddler, making a donation or becoming an event sponsor.

The 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. The foundation’s mission is to provide access, knowledge and support to all those whose lives have been touched by cancer in Maui County. To learn more, call 242-7661.