Maui Sports

200 Cancer Survivors to Paddle from Lahaina to Lānaʻi

August 17, 2016, 4:10 PM HST
* Updated August 18, 5:56 AM
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Hundreds of cancer survivors and supporters will journey across the open ocean as they embark on a challenging physical, mental and emotional journey.

On October 8th, over 200 participants will paddle six-person outrigger canoes across the ʻAuʻau channel from Lahaina to Lānaʻi as part of the 8th Annual Paddle For Life event.

The 34-mile round trip journey will raise funds for Pacific Cancer Foundation.

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, 2016 at Hanakaʻōʻō Beach Park in Lahaina with an opening ceremony and blessing before departure.

Kepa Maly, Executive Director of Lāna‘i Culture and Heritage Center. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Kepa Maly, Executive Director of Lāna‘i Culture and Heritage Center will join Kimokeo Kapahulehua of Maui in conducting a welcoming ceremony for the event. File photo of Kepa Maly by Wendy Osher.


After arriving in Mānele Bay on Lānaʻi the paddlers and their supporters enjoy a traditional welcoming ceremony lead by Lānaʻi’s Kepa Maly of Pūlama Lānaʻi and the Executive Director of the Lānaʻi 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 Pūlama Lānaʻi to continue this wonderful annual event,  We truly appreciate all of their support and kōkua,” said La Joy.


Event organizers say that ahough 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 with many others 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 ʻohana to support this year’s theme of nurturing health. Massage therapists will travel on the ferry to meet paddlers as they arrive on Lānaʻi, 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, courtesy photo.

Mana’olana Pink Paddlers, courtesy photo.

“Manaʻolana Pink Paddlers has participated in the Lānaʻi voyage since its inception eight years ago. We train for months in preparation, bringing our team together as one strong ʻohana.  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.

To help support the efforts of paddlers, the public is invited to visit the Pacific Cancer Foundation’s website, and registering as a participant, sponsoring a paddler, making a donation, or becoming an event sponsor.

This year’s voyage is made possible by the following sponsors: Pūlama Lānaʻi, Safeway Foundation, SGS Hawaiʻi Inc., Landscape Management, Alysha Sparkman R(S)-76806 a Realtor® with Equity One Real Estate, LLC, R.E.A.P. Foundation, Lulu’s Lahaina, Nalu’s Kīhei, Nordic PCL Construction Inc., the Hard Rock Café and support from family and friends.

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