This was my second year participating in the Pacific Cancer Foundation’s 27th Annual Day of Hope 10K Run & 5K Run/Walk (5K for me this time around) and I can truly say it is one of the best race events I’ve been a part of – from the overall organization of the day to the feeling you have when you head home, this is an event to put on your yearly calendar. I am a cancer survivor myself so my personal connection to the cause runs deep. This year I also brought a good friend that had never been to the event and she repeatedly mentioned how it touched her deeply due to the apparent love and gratitude in the air.
Upon arrival in this gorgeous setting, you’re greeted by smiling volunteers who are amazing! They constantly thank you for your participation and to my delight, the mission and importance of why everyone has gathered together is a constant topic of conversation. I sign up because I am so happy to give back to an organization that provides many helpful healing services to patients, survivors, and caregivers.
The race itself kicks off with those in wheelchairs and throughout, smiles and cheers abound as the racers all put forth their best athletic efforts. I will always be humbled to see the front runners giving it their all to win or beat their personal time and yet I know there are participants that once might have thought they would never walk on their own or be afforded the gift of being able to join in any of these festivities.
When you cross the finish line, you pass through a mister to cool off and are greeted with ice cold towels - The Four Seasons never disappoints with its attention to detail. Mercedes vans shuttle participants to the start line and a healthy buffet awaits on the lawn at the finish. Foot massages are available by the Four Seasons talented staff and Locks of Love was onsite to accept hair donations for the patients that would no doubt benefit from such a selfless gift. There is even a special race for the keiki at the end. You can truly make a full day being on the south side for the Day of Hope.
Lastly, the day ends with a canoe paddle out ceremony which is absolutely breathtaking and meaningful. The setting on the water surrounded by three other Hawaiian Islands was stunning! The Kihei Canoe Club was present, dressed in traditional Hawaiian attire chanting Hawaiian prayers, blessings, and blowing conch shells, prior to getting in the canoes to paddle out for a flower ceremony. The canoes are filled with members of the canoe club as well as race participants. The racers that went out all had something to release into the water; physically and symbolically. I was seated in front of a local woman from Wailuku that had just lost her mother to cancer. Her wounds were raw and she had yet to find a proper way to relieve herself of some of the grief she was feeling. As we were all given fresh orchids to pray over and place in the healing waters of the Pacific, I saw her with my own eyes be able to release her struggles into the water. We circled the hundreds of fresh orchids that were given to the ocean several times before heading back to shore. While standing back on the beach she hugged me and thanked me for encouraging her to join the ceremony. Cancer can be such a dark and deadly ordeal that I personally cannot think of a more cleansing and healing way to commemorate such an event.
Of course the most important part is the reason we’re all there, to raise money for the Pacific Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Foundation and the Kapi’olani Medical Center. I know $50,000 was raised in advance of the event and through a variety of fundraising throughout the day including a silent auction, even more was collected to support this cause.
The moment that stuck with me well after the event was the main speaker who commented, with everything going on in the world and most experiencing some sort of loss or disease at some point in our lives, everyone coming together on that day was the antithesis of negativity and death. He reminded us that the best time to give is when you are in need, and the more you give, the more you receive in return. I couldn’t agree more!