ACS to honor

Barry Taniguchi in memoriam with the Beacon of Hope Award at the 8th Annual Hope Gala: Midnight in Monte Carlo on Friday, November 6, 2020, in Support of Hope Lodge Hawai’i

With an abundance of caution in keeping our patients, volunteers, donors and staff healthy, the American Cancer Society has rescheduled the 8th annual Hope Gala Honolulu to take place as a virtual online auction event culminating on Friday, November 6.  The online auction will be open for bids starting on Friday, Oct. 30 at 8 am and will close on Friday, November 6 at 8pm. (2020 Hope Gala Honolulu)

This year’s theme is Midnight in Monte Carlo, with the ambiance of an evening in Monte Carlo, in the Principality of Monaco in the South of France, known for its luxurious Casino Monte Carlo.  The event will feature a video tribute to Barry Taniguchi, Beacon of Hope honoree in memoriam, a virtual tour of Hope Lodge Honolulu and the critical role it plays in helping cancer patients access life-giving care, video testimonials of Hope Lodge patients, and the opportunity to bid on unique items during the Live and Premier Auctions. 

The Beacon of Hope Award will be presented in memoriam to Barry Taniguchi, chairman of the board and   CEO of KTA Super Stores, as a special recognition of his leadership in the community and support for American Cancer Society and Hope Lodge Hawaii. The Beacon of Hope Award was established in 2015 to recognize an entity or individual in our community who provides significant contributions to end the fight against cancer in Hawaii. These advocates demonstrate outstanding commitment to the mission of American Cancer Society in the areas of patient care, advocacy, access to care and/or health disparities.

100% of the proceeds from this gala will benefit the Clarence T.C. Ching Hope Lodge Honolulu operations, which since opening November 2016, has provided over 900 patients with free lodging in Honolulu while receiving life-saving treatment.  The gala’s Monaco Grand Prix Presenting Sponsor is Hawaiian Electric, with Le Grand Casino sponsorships from The Queen’s Health Systems and City Mill Company, Ltd.

For more information on the event, visit  For sponsorship’s, or to make a donation, please contact Cheryl LeBeau at (808) 432-9153, or via email at  OR Elisabeth Case at (808) 432-9137, or via email at

Hawaiian Airlines Resumes Critical Transportation for Cancer Patients


For more than 20 years, Hawaiian Airlines has quietly been supporting the fight against cancer by donating through the HawaiianMiles charity program to the American Cancer Society.  Through the Society’s patient services, the charity program miles are given to patients across the Hawaiian Islands who need air transportation to O‘ahu or the mainland. Concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients postponed cancer care. Beginning Monday, September 14, 2020, charity program miles can again be used through the American Cancer Society to get patients to their potentially life-saving treatment.

“As a cancer patient who lives on the Big Island, it was critical to my cancer treatment to have access to The Queen’s Medical Center for treatment and PET scans,” said Bernie, a cancer patient who used the program. “The HawaiianMiles charity program assisted me in making that possible.  As with other patients, it helped me when I needed it most and I shall always be grateful for the generosity of the program.”

“The charity program miles donated by Hawaiian Airlines and their HawaiianMiles members provide a profound gift to a cancer patient during their journey,” said Michelle Hashimoto, manager of the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Honolulu.  “It means that there is one less expense to worry about.  Patients are so grateful for the continued spirit of aloha and giving.”

According to Ryan Okita, Senior Director, Cancer Control Program Management for the Society, the American Cancer Society provided 552 flights in 2019 through the Hawaiian Airlines charity program. “Hawaiian Airlines and their HawaiianMiles members have donated more than one million miles in 2019 alone, mostly for cancer patients in Hawaii to get to cancer treatment,” Okita confirmed.

The HawaiianMiles charity program offers a meaningful way for Hawaiian Airlines’ guests to support important community causes.  Hawaiian Airlines incorporated four distinct pillars of charitable giving opportunities, each one representing a major keystone of Hawaiian society: Culture, Education, Environment, and Health and Human Services.

“Each year, Hawaiian Airlines will match up to a half-million miles to each participating charity. We are grateful for the generosity of our loyal guests who donate their miles to support the incredible work of non-profits like the American Cancer Society and help fulfill our mission to assist our neighbors across the islands,” said Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, Hawaiian Airlines director of community and cultural relations.

Hawaiian has donated over 5 million HawaiianMiles to the American Cancer Society since 2009 and participated in its Relay For Life program for over 25 years. The carrier recently donated First Class amenity kits and slippers as well as face masks produced by its partner Kealopiko to support Hope Lodge patients. The American Cancer Society provides free services for cancer patients, including talking with a live Cancer Information Specialist 24/7, information about early detection, and treatments. Cancer patients who need transportation assistance from Hawaii can call the American Cancer Society for assistance at 808-595-7500.

To donate your Hawaiian miles to the American Cancer Society, please visit the website linked HERE and choose our organization.

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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