Waimea Middle School May Day Court poses with the Relay for Life sign. PHOTO BY HAVAIKI ETHERTON COURTESY OF WMS FOR NHN
WMS May Day King Maile Etherton presents a lei to cancer survivors at the Relay for Life. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WMS FOR NHN)
WMS May Day Court walks at the Relay for Life in Waimea. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WMS FOR NHN)
Participating in the opening protocol for the Waimea Relay for Life has become a Waimea Middle School May Day Court tradition. After making ti leaf lei for each of the survivors at the event on April 27, the court performed a chant and dance and then walked laps with survivors and their loved ones.
For students, it’s a service learning experience they will long remember.
Tania DuPont, Waimea Middle School eighth grader and May Day Court queen, said she felt an “inexplicable warmness I felt when I saw the faces of the survivors in the crowd.”
“That alone was so insightful, because it made me realize that even though these people are courageously fighting this battle with cancer, they still manage to smile despite the illness,” DuPont said. “Relay For Life was rather symbolic; it allowed people without cancer to empathize with those who do, and given that it was a 12 hour event, we would see how this illness never sleeps.
” … Ms. Case welcomed us to the stage, where we chanted, then danced ‘No Ku`u Hawai`i’ (the number our court has learned for our May Day performance). It was during that moment when I looked into the crowd and I saw a particular woman who just stood out to me. I could see the pain she had endured with every nod of the head and stifle of the cry, but it was again in that moment where I saw her strength,” DuPont said. “Her perseverance radiated, and I knew that I had to give her a lei, we had an unspoken connection. I tried my hardest not to cry, and when I gave her a hug I could feel her gratitude. It made me think about all of the people in my life who fought cancer, such as my great grandmother and grandfather. They passed away when I was little so I was naive and didn’t really understand what they were going through. But being able to age and go to this event helped me see what they were going through, and I am extremely grateful that I had the chance to be in the presence of such strong souls.”
May Day Court King Maile Etherton also had a memorable encounter — meeting one of the cancer survivors and his wife from California who came to attend the Relay for Life in Waimea for the first time. They were very touched by Etherton when he offered to give them a lei and they wanted to know more about who he was and how he was connected to this event.
“I’m here with other classmates from Waimea Middle School to support our community and show that we care,” Etherton said.The Waimea Middle School Annual May Day celebration is Friday, May 10, at Thelma Parker gym, featuring a student May Day Court and performances. Morning event opens at 8:30 a.m., with program at 9 a.m. Evening performance opens at 5:30 p.m., with 6 p.m. start. Half hour pre-performance will feature music by Hawane Rios, Keali’i Bertelmann and Chadd Paishon and friends. Dinners for purchase available from 4:45 p.m. featuring grass-fed Waimea Ranch beef stew ‘n rice, or sweet-sour pork n’ Rice bowls with salad and dessert. Funds raised support this summer’s trip. Donations of greenery needed. Bring to the gym at 9 a.m., Thursday, May 9. Kokua with decorating is welcome from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday. For more information, contact Pua Case at 938-5550.