October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. On Maui, the Mana’olana (“Hope”) Pink Paddlers, a group of cancer survivors and their supporters, bring cancer awareness through the art, the sport, and most importantly, the mana of Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe paddling. A 501(c)3 nonprofit since 2010, the Pink Paddlers are committed to educational outreach in the community as well as developing rewarding partnerships with the Pacific Cancer Foundation. The Pink’s original vision, to reach out to breast cancer survivors, now includes all cancer survivors and their supporters, regardless of age or gender.
“Our mission is to cultivate hope, health, fitness, and fun for cancer survivors and supporters, utilizing traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoes to encourage physical exercise, build confidence and lasting friendships,” said Mana’olana Pink Paddlers President, Mary Dungans. “We reassure, by example, that exercise can aid recovery and demonstrate that people living with this disease can lead full and active lives. Today, we have over 100 members ranging in age up into the 90’s and are still paddling strong!”
The Pinks hope to bring, not just paddling, training, and technique, but awareness of the sea, the wind, the life, the culture, and what’s on the horizon. Their sport is an invitation to strengthen body, mind and lasting friendships from paddling with a crew.
“When I moved to Maui, I wanted to contribute to my community and honor my parents, who both passed away from cancer,” Dungans explained. “I came to paddle with Mana’olana in 2010. I had no idea what a joyous and positive experience it would be! The Pinks welcomed me and made me feel included in something very special. To be able to paddle out into the ocean in the mornings, greet the day, say prayers for loved ones and kindred spirits and affirm our gratitude was the best medicine anyone could ever hope for. I was strengthened mentally, physically and spiritually. I realized my mission was to empower others to be happy and strong—no matter what obstacles come along.” For more information about the Pink Paddlers visit: www.manaolanapinkpaddlersmaui.org.
Survivor or supporter, all are invited to the Maui Canoe Club on Sugar Beach, just off North Kihei Road on Tuesday and Thursday at 8:15am.
Mary Dungans, President, Mana’olana Pink Paddlers