The American Cancer Society Relay For Life of O’ahu Goes Virtual Due to Pandemic

HONOLULU, HI–August 31, 2020Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the previously scheduled Relay For Life of O’ahu has now been rescheduled for Saturday, October 3, 2020 as a virtual online event. Relay For Life of O’ahu’s theme this year is “Gathering O’ahu” because this is about the community coming together, however, the safety of our patients, survivors, volunteers and staff is always a top priority.

This year’s Relay For Life of O’ahu is being run by a mostly student volunteer committee. 

The Relay For Life Executive Team Leader, Madison Sweaney, is a psychology and sociology major at University of Manoa. Madison grew up attending Relay For Life in Bakersfield, CA – one of American Cancer Society’s biggest fundraisers nationwide. She participated every year with her “Grandma Jan” who was diagnosed with breast cancer when Madison was in kindergarten. Even though Grandma Jan passed away in 2018, Madison continues to volunteer with American Cancer Society and Relay For Life. “Wherever I am at in the country, I Relay for my Grandma Jan and for a world without cancer,” said Sweaney.

Michaela Kop is a Sophmore at University of Hawai’i majoring in molecular biology. “I relay for both of my grandfathers, my grandmother, and my school friend, all of whom were taken by different forms of cancer. Although it was very difficult to see my grandparents go, it was the most heartbreaking to say goodbye to my friend and classmate as he was so young and had so much ahead of him. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an especially trying time for all of us, and I can only imagine how tough it must be to have to deal with cancer at a time like this. It takes a great deal of strength to go through this sort of situation, so I would like you guys to know that you are not alone. We are all rooting for you!”

Reily Pittman is volunteering for the American Cancer Society, “because I want to become an oncology social worker and thought this would be a great way for me to get more familiar with the disease and learn about how others are supporting the effort to find a cure. I Relay in memory of my Aunties Lei and Catherine, my teacher Mrs. Zavala, and everyone else who has been affected by cancer.” 

With Sweaney’s leadership, the student committee came up innovative ways to stay connected to the cause and working towards fundraising.   The “September Student Fundraising Challenge Cheat Sheet” includes:

  • Week One: Create a Team, Get started with the American Cancer Society FUNdraising App
  • Week Two: Facebook fundraising, Start your Venmo Challenge Board, Start your own virtual fundraiser
  • Week Three: Share the American Cancer Society’s mission messages
  • Week Four: Spirit Week! All funds must be in your account by midnight, Friday, 9/25.

As an incentive, the winning Relay For Life of O’ahu teams will be featured in the Relay For Life of O’ahu event video on Oct. 3 as the virtual event unfolds. The winning individuals will receive a Back to School Kit, Virtual Edition.  Teams registered by 9/5 will be entered into a drawing for Relay logo prizes.  Student volunteers are even asked to keep track of donor zip codes for a Zip Code Contest, welcoming gifts from all over the islands and all over the world. The Team and Individual categories of 1) University 2) High School/ Middle/ Elementary 3) Other – this includes, as all non-student teams are also eligible.

“During this difficult time, cancer won’t stop, and neither will we,” said Elisabeth Case, Community Development Manager at the American Cancer Society in O`ahu.  “Even though we cannot currently be face-to-face, we’re committed to continuing to fight cancer head-on and hope that you will stand together with us, even when we’re apart. And it’s so inspiring to see what our next generation of leaders can do!”

The Relay For Life movement continues to celebrate people who have been touched by cancer, remember loved ones lost, and take action for lifesaving change. All are welcome to join virtually and continue the fight from home to be a part of the Relay For Life of O’ahu.

The American Cancer Society’s mission matters more than ever. The needs of people facing cancer continue and so does our work. Cancer patients still need support during this crisis. Funds raised help the American Cancer Society to continue with cancer research, the 24/7 helpline, and for continuing services to get patients the care and support they need where we can.

Help continue to bring hope to those that need it most. Join your local Relay For Life virtually to help those facing cancer. Visit for more information about this virtual event.

Media Contact:

Elisabeth Case, (808) 432-9137 or

Cheryl LeBeau, (808) 432-9136 or

Beckie Moore Flati, (714) 697-8666 or

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