Thanks to Lanakila OC paddlers!

I want the women from the Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club to know how much sarcoma patients appreciate their support.

Their competitions raise money for the Sarcoma Alliance, an international nonprofit that provides education, guidance and support for people with this rare cancer -- like me. They are part of Ocean of Hope, the alliance's biggest fundraising campaign. O2H involves ocean sports, with teams participating in various competitions.

The team, from Redondo Beach's King Harbor in Los Angeles County, will compete tomorrow in the U.S. Outrigger Championships. The 23 women will race 27 miles from Newport Harbor to Avalon on Catalina Island in LA County.

On Sept. 27, they will compete in the Molokai (Hale O Lono Harbor) to Oahu Race, Hawaii. The finish of this outrigger event is at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, around 1:30 p.m.

Team captain Aimee Spector got involved with O2H four years ago, and she recruited eight other women from the Lanakila club. That first year, they raised about $3,000. This year, they have have raised more than $12,000 so far.

The women also raise awareness about sarcoma: They wear jerseys with the O2H logo, their escort boats carry O2H banners, and they register as Lanakila/Ocean of Hope.

"Just by getting involved we have touched the lives of people we may never meet," Aimee says. "I see O2H as an opportunity to open the paddlers' minds to giving back while doing something they love. Like being involved in any nonprofit, it takes dedication and commitment, which this team of paddlers already possesses. And the sport of outrigger paddling takes determination and perseverance, and that is what sarcoma survivors use every day to get through their journey."

I agree. Sometimes I feel like I was dropped in the ocean, fearing I would never make it to shore. The Sarcoma Alliance is my escort boat.

In 2002, I was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a cancer of the involuntary muscles, as found in organs and blood vessels. Rhabdomyosarcoma -- of the voluntary muscles in arms and legs, for example -- is more common in kids. Many types of sarcoma, including mine, can be aggressive and fatal. Twice, mine has spread to my lungs. I'm now on disability, but I write the way I do because I worked as a journalist.

I'm attaching a photo of the Lanakila women at the Iron Paddling Championships in San Diego in June, where they took first place open and first overall.

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Submitted by SuzieTampa on Fri, 09/11/2009 - 8:50am



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