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Pink Pride

A group from Kaua‘i County Committee on the Status of Women accepted a mayoral proclamation in the courtyard of the Moikeha Building prior to heading out to 2017’s Paint the Town Pink event.

Get ready to participate in two free breast cancer awareness walks this week — Paint the Town Pink Oct. 3 in Līhu‘e and Walk to Celebrate Life Oct. 5 in Kapa‘a.

From Līhu‘e to Kapa‘a, communities across Kaua‘i will be turning the island pink the first week of October in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Residents will be strapping on their walking shoes for Kaua‘i County Committee on the Status of Women’s Paint the Town Pink walk Oct. 3 and Mahelona Hospital’s sixth annual Walk to Celebrate Life Oct. 5.

In Līhu‘e town, Paint the Town Pink takes place 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 3). Kicking off the event is a warmup with Bev Brody at County of Kaua‘i’s Moikeha Rotunda Building. Walkers then will travel along Kūhiō Highway to Wilcox Memorial Hospital and return back along the same route. Although the approximate mile-and-a-half walk is brief, the impact it makes is life-changing and long-standing.

2017 Paint the Town Pink walkers stroll through Līhu‘e Civic Center breezeway.

According to National Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and is the second leading cause of death. (Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,470 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, and approximately 460 will die each year.)

Beyond the statistics are, of course, the many faces and lives of friends and family affected by breast cancer.

Longtime participant Edie Ignacio Neumiller shares that although the numbers of diagnosed seem vast and the road to a cure long ahead, there’s always reason to be optimistic.

Residents unable to walk or who need assistance rode in style during Mahelona Medical Center’s Walk to Celebrate Life last year.

“From the last five years I’ve participated as a walker, the event has grown to almost 80 walkers, which is amazing. It would be great to reach a goal of 100 walkers each year,” she says.

A couple of days after Paint the Town Pink, Mahelona Medical Center’s sixth annual Walk to Celebrate Life lights up the grounds Friday (Oct. 5) starting at 9 a.m. It’s a day of hope, not just for those who participate, but for organizers as well.

“I have been at the hospital for over 30 years, and I can’t imagine not doing this every year. I get chicken-skin because this is such a beautiful, heartwarming event,” says Josie Pablo, regional director of the Recreational Therapy Department for Kaua‘i Region at Mahelona Medical Center and Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital.

Participants in 2017’s Walk to Celebrate Life gather along Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path.

Walkers will meet at Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path in Kapa‘a (behind the neighborhood center). From there, participants will walk along the path to the Kapa‘a Ball Park.

Upon finishing, walkers can expect refreshments from Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa, pink roses from Mahelona Auxiliary, and entertainment by violinist Kimberly McDonough and the Kapa‘a High marching band and color guard (under the direction of Katherine Paleka).

Volunteers are needed to help push the hospital’s wheelchair-bound residents interested in participating in the walk. The patients and residents battling cancer, says Pablo, are the heart and soul of the event, and the reason why it started six years ago.

“Our goal was to create a day to celebrate their lives and give them a sense of hope; to commemorate their lives so they feel loved and special,” she adds.

For more information about Paint the Town Pink, call 241-4919 or visit kauai.gov/kccsw. To learn more about Walk to Celebrate Life, call 823-4138 or email jpablo@hhsc.org.