ACTIVE community participation led to the success of this year’s 15th Marianas March Against Cancer fund raising project.
According to Carolyn Hosono, MMAC chair, this year’s fund raising march raised $207,072 in cash and in-kind donations, surpassing last year’s $177,000. She added that the 12-hour event that took place at Hopwood Middle School on May 5- 6 and it drew a crowd of more than 2,000.
Bobby Cruz, MMAC co-chair, said the campus was packed.
“It really does show that this community cares about preventing cancer, cares about honoring the memories of those we’ve lost to cancer but also standing ready to support all our loved ones in fighting for cancer.”
Moreover, in a speech during the affair, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said no one should fight cancer alone.
“We are here for you as your support. You are here for us as our inspiration and we can win this battle together,” the emotionally-charged mayor said.
Apatang was a cancer survivor but his wife succumbed to it in December 2016.
In supporting the MMAC annual event, he said that it has become a foundation for the community to come back every year to march against cancer.
“This developed courage in us and oftentimes we overcome our pains as we go on, but it will definitely change us. Never let cancer forget who we are no matter what life is,” he said.
On the other hand, another cancer survivor, Patricia Cruz; thanked God for giving her a second chance in life.
“I remember seeing the fear in my children’s eyes as I cried out in pain and threw up blood,” Cruz said, recounting her battle against cancer in 2010.
“When the doctor said I have cancer, I was in disbelief. I cried and hugged my two kids. I had a tumor the size of a melon in my stomach that caused massive internal bleeding,” she said.
Cruz said she was brought to the Philippines for surgery. She recalled staying 14 days at the ICU, six months bedridden and undergoing intense radiation and chemotherapy for a year.
“I remember losing my hair in chunks. I could not walk and barely lift a thing that is more than 10 lbs. It was the most terrifying years of my life,” she said adding that it was a five-year battle against cancer.
“With the support of powerful community, my friends and family, they pushed me to fight to believe and to have faith in God. I had the willingness to keep fighting and I’m standing here and strong,” she said.
“I am 50 years old and I beat cancer!” she said.
She did 30 push-ups on stage to show the crowds that she is now strong and healthy.
For her part, Nola Hix, MMAC member, reiterated the purpose of raising fund.
“It is for people who need it, for people who are suffering that need medical assistance.”
She said this event also teaches students to advocate a very worthy cause.
According to Juan L. Babauta, executive director of Community Cancer Association (CCA), the event was very successful. For two years in a row, 18 teams of sponsors participated in the event.
“We expect it to be even bigger and more sponsors next year,” Babauta said.
Rep. Vinnie Sablan, whose team Talaabwogh Star won as Best Tent for two consecutive years, said the concept of their tent this year was “a healing garden.”
He said they came up with this concept as then Jesse Seman, who turned to herbs and plants when he was battling the cancer. He died early this year.
“We dedicated to him our MMAC march. We honor him and remember him what he taught us in fighting the battle against cancer,” Sablan said.
Hosono said, before concluding the event, they conduct a “fight back” ceremony. She explained that existing teams and sponsors pledged to be in MMAC in 2018.
“Usually, we have them register a few months before MMAC event and that only gives them a few windows of opportunity to go out and sell luminaries and do fund drive,” Hosono said.
- Rookie of the year award – Docomo Pacific and Marianas Basketball Association Rising Star award – Mariana Islands Football Association
- Best baton award – Team Bodig
- Best tend award – Team Talaabwogh Star
- Most luminaries sold – Team Bodig
- Inspiration award- team Faiye Community spirit award Team Bodig