Tens Years of Celebrating More Birthdays
Posted on Monday, March 25, 2013

NHCH is a proud participant in the 10th Annual Waimea Relay For Life with a team of employees and ‘ohana supporting the overnight relay against cancer that will be held next month.  This wonderful decade-long event located in Waimea started because of two women, a hospital employee and her sister-in-law, and their dedication to cancer education and awareness in our community.      

Relay For Life is a fun-filled event that mobilizes communities throughout the country to celebrate cancer survivors (anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer), remember loved ones and raise money to support the fight against cancer.

Bernie Kainoa, an NHCH Imaging Technologist and Waimea resident, shares how the Waimea Relay For Life began over a decade ago: “the closest Relay For Life was in Kohala, and I just thought Waimea needed its own Relay; our two communities are similar, yet very different.  At the same time, my sister-in-law, Yvonne ‘Keikilani’ Kainoa, was diagnosed with breast cancer and together we were determined to bring cancer education and awareness to Waimea.”

The first Waimea Relay For Life chairpersons included Jamie Giltner, NHCH Human Resources Benefit Specialist, and Tootsie Frietas, Bernie’s niece.  It was held in July 2003 at Waimea Park.   “The Waimea Relay For Life has always had a great Hawaiian paniolo flavor,” says Kainoa.  “I love the fact that the community always comes out to support such a great cause, right here in Waimea.”

This year’s 10th Annual Waimea Relay For Life will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2013, starting at 6:00 p.m. in Waimea Park and kicks off a “Survivors Lap” celebrating those who have survived cancer or who are currently battling cancer.  After sundown, Relay For Life’s “Luminaria Ceremony” takes place, honoring the community’s cancer survivors and remembering those lost to the disease.  Participants will walk a circle track surrounded with glowing luminaries that bear the names of loved ones who have battled cancer.   This event also includes the “Fight Back Ceremony” in which a community leader will inspire Relay participants with his or her own commitment and will challenge them to take a personal pledge of action (e.g., stop smoking, eat more healthy, exercise regularly, etc.) in fighting back.

NHCH’s team will sell Portuguese bean soup and share educational information about how to live a healthy lifestyle.  All proceeds from the hospital’s Portuguese bean soup sales will support American Cancer Society’s (AMC) Relay For Life.  In addition, the hospital has held three employee fundraisers to support this wonderful cause, including a “Cookies for Cancer” bake sale on Valentine’s day, garage sale and craft fair, raising more than $2,000.

“Through the support of our community, we are able to provide more education, awareness and donations which can bring cancer down,” says Kainoa.   “Cancer never sleeps; it touches us all and it doesn’t care who it affects.  I support Relay For Life for my sister-in-law and husband who both lost their fight against cancer.  I walk for them,” says Kainoa.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life first started in May 1985, when Dr. Gordy Klatt took the first step of this 24-hour walk around the track in Tacoma, Washington raising $27,000 to support the American Cancer Society.  For more information on how you can get involved in Waimea’s 10th Annual Relay For Life or to purchase luminaries for $5 in your loved one’s name, please visit www.relayforlife.org/waimeahi.  


Photo: Cancer survivors from the first Waimea Relay For Life in June of 2003.