Giving Generously

Molokai Cancer Fund reaches fundraising goals at 5K race and luncheon.    

Oahu musicians Eric Lee and Sonny Kalua played at the Molokai Cancer Fund luncheon last Saturday at the Molokai Museum. Photo by DeGray Vanderbilt.

By Melissa Kelsey

After the Molokai Cancer Fund ran out of money to help patients last year, volunteers knew that the non-profit needed a new fundraising strategy. The result was a day packed full of festivities in Kualapu`u last Saturday in a successful effort to draw a crowd.

The Molokai Cancer Fund raised more than $15,000 throughout the day and met their goals for the fundraiser, according to Treasurer Cissy Ellertsen. Approximately 500 people attended.

Early risers started the day off with a 5K race at Coffees of Hawaii. Molokai High School teacher and runner Rodney Nelson finished first with a time of 45:30, followed by 66 other participants who ran or walked.

To raise money, race participants sought individuals to sponsor their effort. Those who raised $10 received a free raffle ticket and those who raised $20 received two free raffle tickets. Ambitious competitors who raised $100 or more were rewarded with a free month long membership to Na Pu`uwai gym. Event organizers hoped the race would not only benefit cancer patients, but also boost the community’s health by encouraging exercise, according to Kristin Hirsch, the Molokai Cancer Fund volunteer who orchestrated the race. 

Later that day, plates of Chinese food were sold at the Molokai Museum for $20 per plate. The meal also featured a silent auction, raffle and live music by Melveen Leed, Eric Lee and Sonny Kalua. The food plates were so popular that they sold out, according to event attendee DeGray Vanderbilt.

“The day was an outpouring of support from the community,” said Hirsch. “People would ask what they could do to help.” 

The Molokai Cancer Fund helps Molokai cancer patients pay for airfare to off-island doctor appointments. As a result of the race and luncheon, volunteers estimate that the fund will be able to provide at least two round-trip tickets for every patient who seeks help this year, according to Ellertsen.  

“The money will stay in Molokai to be used for air transportation for people to visit their doctors,” said Ellertsen. “The money will be saved for Molokai people.”

The 5K race was coordinated by Hirsch, in cooperation with Na Pu`uwai native Hawaiian care system, Kukui Ahi, Coffees of Hawaii, the State of Hawaii Highways Division and the County of Maui Police Department. The luncheon was organized by a variety of volunteer committees.  

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