A Hoedown To Take Down Cancer

Last year's ‘Hoedown for Hope' celebration, which raised $100,000 for American Cancer Society

Last year’s ‘Hoedown for Hope’ celebration, which raised $100,000 for American Cancer Society

Pull on your cowboy boots and saddle up for a good time at this year’s “Hoedown for Hope,” American Cancer Society’s annual fundraiser.

“Everyone gets really into the country-western theme, and the boots and hats come out,” says event co-chair Yvette Sahut.

Attendees can expect a good ol’ time this Saturday (March 21) at Kilohana Plantation, where they will be treated to a variety of country-western festivities including a performance by duo Maddie & Tae, who recently topped Billboard‘s Country Music charts with their No. 1 hit single, Girl in a Country Song.

“This is unprecedented,” says José Aguayo, event co-chair, about bringing in Maddie & Tae, who recently were nominated for the 2015 Country Music Award’s vocal duo category.

Event organizers are upping the hoedown ante even more this year with the live auction of a 2009 Brabus Cabriolet smart car. It is the generosity of people such as the David Walters family (funder of Wilcox Memorial Hospital’s Infusion Center), who donated the vehicle, that makes the fundraiser such a success. Last year, for example, $100,000 was raised and approximately 350 people attended.

“When you think about it, it’s pretty phenomenal. We only have about 68,000 residents — that’s more than $1 per resident giving back to (fight) cancer,” says Sahut.

This year, more than twice as many people are expected to attend, and the goal is to raise even more money to help fund ACS programs on Kauai. For example, “Road to Recovery” volunteers drive patients to and from their treatments. Another popular ACS program, “Look Good, Feel Better,” helps patients with makeup and hairpieces while undergoing treatment.

“To make them feel normal again,” explains Sahut.

The cause hits a soft spot for Aguayo and Sahut — both have close family members who were stricken with the disease. Aguayo’s niece and goddaughter, Maria (aka Pia), was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at just 26 years old.

“You never expect anything like that to happen,” he says. “She had the world in her hands.”

Aguayo chose to create something positive from the situation by volunteering with the hoe-down. And even though his niece currently is in remission, he still helps because it indirectly supports her, as well as his brother, Jorge, who survived prostate cancer five years ago.

One of the reasons Sahut became involved with the hoe-down was because of her grandmother Natalie Mackler. When Sahut moved to the island from California with her family at age 7, she had to leave her beloved grandparents behind.

“They were two of the most important people in my life at the time,” she says.

Sadly, just six months after the move, Sahut discovered that her grandmother was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

“I didn’t understand what it was; I thought she’d get better and we’d see her again,” she says.

But she never did.

Sahut’s grandfather Jaime Tolbe, a retired Olokele Sugar Plantation employee, also suffered from cancer (prostate) about 10 years ago.

“That was scary, too, for my family,” she says, adding that Tolbe currently is in remission.

Cancer affects people everywhere and does not discriminate. This event is a chance to personally make a difference.

“Cancer can strike at any time with any person,” says Sahut.

“You never know if it will be you or someone you love, and I feel like it’s the right thing to do, to put all of my effort into this and raise as much money as I can.”

Hoedown for Hope at Kilohana Plantation, with master of ceremonies Ron Mizutani of KHON2 news, a Kauai native, also will include dinner, a performance by local country music group Not My First Rodeo and a silent auction.

Doors open at 5 p.m. and tickets cost $125 per person or $1,500 for a reserved table. Visit hoedownforhope.org to purchase tickets or for more information. cocomidweek@gmail.com