14 May 2018
- By Lori Lyn C. Lirio – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
THE 16th annual Marianas March Against Cancer raised a total of $250,800 in cash and in-kind donations during the 12-hour event on May 11-12 at Hopwood Middle School.
The cash raised this year was 179,930, surpassing last year’s $164,553. MMAC co-chair Bobby Cruz said this year’s event set new records: 20 teams participated, and there were 35 sponsors.
“In the past, the closest we came was 19 teams and that happened several years ago,” Cruz said.
The MMAC is gaining support from the community, according to event co-chair Carline Sablan. “We are definitely bringing everyone together to join the fight against cancer.”
According to Cruz, “Smashing the records this year is so significant. It is really not so much about the numbers. What the numbers stand for is that more people have chosen to join the fight. Every single year that we get more teams and more sponsors to participate is a sign that the community is choosing to stand behind this cause.”
The MMAC is the signature fundraising event of the Commonwealth Cancer Association which aims to save lives by promoting early detection and prevention, education and advocacy and life-affirming patient services.
In his remarks, CCA executive director Juan Babauta said the song, “Stand by Me,” “sums up what the cancer association and the MMAC is all about.”
“We are standing by those who are in a fight for their lives,” he added. “We are standing by others who are fighting the good fight against cancer. We are standing by our partners and caregivers. We are standing with our community to encourage healthy behavior and promote early checkups.”
In 2003, Babauta said he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and needed to travel to Guam for a biopsy and then to Hawaii for treatment.
“I was blessed to have my wife by my side to help me through my condition and treatment,” he said.
He added that the support from his wife, family and friends and messages of encouragement were important to his recovery.
“Fourteen years later, I am cancer-free. I wanted to say I am lucky, but there is more to it than that. The support provided to me helped me through this terrible time. And this made me think about giving back,” Babauta added.
He wanted to provide support to other cancer patients and their families. “The CCA was my avenue to bring support and assistance to those who are faced with this terrible disease and also their families, friends and caregivers.”
Babauta also recognized the important role played by caregivers. “They are the heart of CCA. I cannot put into words how important they are in the lives of those who fight against this disease. My wife, as caregiver, was there every step of the way fighting alongside me, suffering with me and rejoicing with me.”
The CCA, he said, chose to fight alongside every person diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers. “We are here to provide support and resources. We are here to stand side by side in your battle.”
At the opening ceremony, Cruz said the event was a celebration of cancer survivors. “Keep in mind that the heart of why we are here is to celebrate life and honor the memories of those we have lost,” he added.
More than 30 cancer survivors, wearing purple shirts, attended the event to assure the community that there is “hope.”
During the march, there were competitions among teams in different categories. Inspirational stories were heard, food and refreshments were sold and there was live entertainment as the teams took turns running around the track.
Rising Star — Tan Holdings/Kagman High School
Rookie of the Year — Public School System/Saipan Paddling Club
Community Spirit — Team Bodig
Inspirational Spirit — Team Talaabwogh Star
Most Laps — Marianas Health Services
Most Luminaries Sold — Team Faiye.
Best Baton Award — IT&E/Saipan Southern High School.
Best Tent — Lady Diann Torres Foundation/Northern Marianas College
Most money raised
Puti’un (Business) — Pacific Islands Club
Pulan (Family) —Team Bodig
Atdao (Government) — Northern Mariana Islands Football Association
Napu (School) — Mount Carmel School
Tasi (Business/NGO) — Team Triple J and Chacha Oceanview Middle School
Tano (Non-Profit) – Lady Diann Torres Foundation/Northern Marianas College
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/104396-mmac-raises-over-250-000