Maui Arts & Entertainment

Eleventh Annual Paddle for Life Event Next Month

September 18, 2019, 8:52 AM HST
* Updated September 19, 6:45 AM
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Paddle for Life crew

Maui Now is proud to announce that it is once again the media partner for this year’s Paddle for Life event next month, benefiting the Pacific Cancer Foundation of Maui.

For the 11th consecutive year, cancer patients, survivors and supporters will gather at Hanakaʻōʻō Beach and traverse the ʻAuʻau Channel to the shores of Mānele Bay on Lānaʻi. This year 30 Hawaiian canoes, 295 paddlers, 32 support boats, more than 35 businesses are all committed to participate and raise funds; however more donations, paddlers and in-kind gifts are needed. To donate or register as a paddler go to or click on this link.

Paddle for Life participants embrace before the voyage

The Pacific Cancer Foundation is a Maui-based 501(c) that works to ensure no one on Maui has to face cancer alone. All of PCF’s services are free of charge, and 100% of the organization’s operating revenues go to help Maui County residents.

The Paddle for Life is held this year on Oct. 12 and 13, is a two-day, 36-mile round-trip which draws paddlers from across North America and the state of Hawaiʻi to participate.  Individuals from 5 to 80 years of age can all paddle.

Aerial view of 2018 Paddle for Life event

Canoes are decorated with dozens of names and photos of people for whom they are paddling. Paddlers sleep at the campground on Hulopoʻe Beach, then paddle back the next morning.


Billed as a voyage not a race, Paddle for Life reflects the journey people go through when dealing with cancer.


“It’s about traveling with ʻohana from one place to another, sharing aloha and deep unconditional love,” said Kimokeo Kapahulehua, founder and spiritual leader of Paddle for Life. “It’s made a big difference in the lives of people with cancer, and the lives of the people who support it.”

Kimokeo Kapahulehua blows the conch shell

Once the flotilla arrives at Lānaʻi hundreds of participants join hands on the beach for an observance of traditional Hawaiian protocol, including chants. Paddler’s transport peace offerings in their canoes for Lānaʻi kupuna, including 40 pounds of poi, over 30 kalo (taro), and ʻulu (breadfruit) plants.

“The people of Lānaʻi 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, Executive Director at the Pacific Cancer Foundation.


Participation in the event makes a difference to the entire Maui community.

Ten-time participant Tammy Osurman was quoted in Generations magazine as saying, “Two ladies had just completed chemotherapy. When they could not get up in the canoe, I hung on the side and let them use my body as a step. They became my heroes. Two months later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and Pink Paddlers became my supporters. I knew they survived. I knew if they could paddle, so could I.”

The event could not take place without the following strong support of community leaders and businesses:

– Mayor Michael Victorino recorded a PSA encouraging people to donate to Paddle for Life.

– Nalu restaurant in Kīhei is donating and serving barbeque dinner for 500 people on the beach at Mānele Bay.

– Aloha Outdoors of Kīhei is providing support boats selling t-shirts on their website, All profits go to benefit the Pacific Cancer Foundation of Maui.

– On Sept. 27, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Queen Kaʻahumanu Center is hosting a Paddle for Life Donation Drive in the main court. Kimokeo and other paddlers will be there with a double-hull Hawaiian canoe for photo opportunities. Items will be auctioned on-line with the winner announced at the event.

– The Westin Maui Resort and Spa in Kāʻanapali is holding its 3rd Annual Oktoberfest on Sept. 28 from 2 to 6 p.m. with proceeds going to support the cancer community in Maui County.

Additional major contributing sponsors who make the event possible include: The Safeway Foundation, Southwest Airlines, SGS Hawaii, Pau Maui Vodka, Nalu’s South Shore Grill, Equity One realtor Alysha Sparkman, Hawaiʻi Ocean Canoe Voyaging Society, Goodfellow Brothers, Pacific Media Group, Aqua Aston, and Pro Diver Maui.

Event organizers are asking for more support. Again, to paddle, donate, sponsor, hold events, or offer in-kind gifts, please go to

About Pacific Cancer Foundation

PCF 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% of the organization’s operating revenues stay in Maui County to help Maui County residents. For more information, visit or call (808) 242-7661.

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