Hope and togetherness for persons affected by cancer is Mana‘olana Pink Paddlers’ (MPP) specialty. Tuesday and Thursday mornings, cancer patients, survivors and supporters pull together, paddling their pink double-hull canoes across the ocean off Kīhei on Maui. Oct. 12 and 13 will be their 10th voyage and overnight on Lāna‘i with The Pacific Cancer Foundation’s Paddle for Life — not a race, but a fun outing (www.paddleforlifemaui.org).

“Mākaukau!” (Ready!) “Imua!” (Forward!) When all 12 paddlers are in sync, the canoe flies. In the last seat, the steersman selects the course; the first seat sets the pace. We paddle with her. After 15 strokes, seat three shouts “Hut!” (Prepare
to paddle on the other side!) and “Hoe!” (Switch!). This works both sides of the body.

This is the first exercise that I tried since my hysterectomy. Mary Dungans, president of MPP, invited me to experience what the nonprofit does for cancer patients and survivors — Wow! — training, an ocean paddle, then a healthy snack and talk story. Half the paddlers are cancer supporters like Mary. Since retiring in 2012, she devotes her skills to MPP.

Says Mary, “We all love life. Alone, we feel weak, but in our big, stable double-hull canoes, 12 easily bear the load. Kīhei morning seas are calm so we can take off safely most days. Paddling is a fun, physical activity that builds both strength and hope. Cancer isolates, but paddling connects.”

She’s right. The peace and freedom of the open ocean heal the spirit. MPP gets you there with aloha and ruthless encouragement — like pink gold. Drive on down to Sugar Beach in Kīhei any Tuesday or Thursday at 7:30 am. Look for the pink paddle. The Mana‘olana Pink Paddlers’ fleet of bright pink double-hulls take off from the north end of the beach and everyone is welcome.

To the Pink Paddlers, life is about moving forward and staying grounded. So, as they say in the canoe, “Imua!”

Enthusiasm and camaraderie! Love these Pink Paddlers who taught me how to paddle and opened up my world. We cut across a flat Ma‘alaea Harbor to see the wreckage of a WWII Hellcat fighter plane. Wow!

www.mauipinks.org | www.manaolanapinkpaddlersmaui.org
Facebook: Manaolana Maui and Maui Pink Paddlers
To sign up for the Lāna‘i Paddle for Life voyage with MPP or to engage MPP to schedule an Ashes to Sea ceremony, you may get the details online.