Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Volunteering in Hawaii

Ocean of Hope volunteers will do almost anything to get the word out - even "selling" the Sarcoma Alliance on Craiglist.

"Each year, the Sarcoma Alliance holds an Ocean of Hope (O2H) campaign in California that has raised over $600,000 in support for sarcoma patients and their families," read the ad. "This year, the Sarcoma Alliance & the Ocean of Hope will be coming to Oahu to host a tent at this year's Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships race. Come join us - be a part of this volunteer-based event and support the worldwide paddleboarders at the finish line!!!"

Danmerle Capati, O2H coordinator for the Islands, listed the July 29 event on the Aloha United Way website and placed the Craigslist ad.

"I thought it was a perfect (free) way to communicate that a Sarcoma Alliance community can be built locally in Hawaii," said Danmerle, adding that the listings brought in several people whose lives had been changed by sarcoma. "The Ocean of Hope campaign has some amazing athletes, and the paddling community has recognized their efforts. That's been a milestone."

A new O2H member this year is Steve Shlens, a lawyer from Santa Barbara, Calif. Chris Aguilar took the photo of him, above. Dan Van Dyke took the one below.

"Managed to get first in my division with paddle partner Dan Van Dyke of San Diego. We had a lot of fun with no expect- ations, so the award was a little bonus. This was my second Molokai race but the first time with O2H. I like the group, the cause, and feel proud to hopefully shine a bit of light on it."

This photo shows Dan, Steve, O2H co-captain Aimee Spector, volunteer Liz Lee, Danmerle, and Stephen Caldwell, a k a "Reno" and "The Redondo Rocket."

Growing up in South Bay, Steve Shlens said, "I paddled as a teen, got out of it, and began paddling again at 38.

"I did compete in a number of other races this year. Seven in all, I believe. Generally did well with second to Jack Bark in five and first in the others."

Next up is the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Marathon, "the grand-daddy of paddleboard races around the world. The original long- distance paddling endurance race."

O2H members Steve Shikiya of Palos Verdes Estates and Joel Pepper of Redondo Beach, who competed in Hawaii, will join teammates Aug. 26 for the Classic in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

O2H started in 1999 -- the same year that Mercedes "Mercy" Capati of Oahu's Ewa Beach was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma.

Born in the Philippines, Mercy married a Navy man and settled in Hawaii, where she worked for the Defense Finance Accounting Service. Her kindness to another Navy wife was detailed in the story "Mercy" in "Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul." Like others with metastatic disease, she had tough times, "but she had some really good times as well," daughter Danmerle recalled.

"She was such a fighter. I have always been proud of her."

Danmerle began volunteering for O2H in 2009, two years after her mother died.

"I'm all about patient advocacy and empowering people who need help the most," said the social worker and musician who now lives on the North Shore. She called the Alliance's Assistance Fund awesome for helping reimburse expenses for patients who seek a second opinion from an expert. She also praised the Peer-to-Peer Network, explaining that emotional support "is a huge part of treatment."

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