After months of exhausting preparations and volunteer hours, the Commonwealth Cancer Association raised a total of $118,190.32 during the 2014 Marianas March Against Cancer on Friday night and early Saturday morning.
The 2014 MMAC total, which is inclusive of in-kind donations, is slightly lower than the $124,049.95 the CCA raised last year during its signature fundraising event.
This year’s cash collection of $83,880.90 was also slightly lower than the $84,403.85 raised last year.
More than a thousand community members trooped to the MMAC at the Hopwood Junior High School field to support the fight against cancer.
Team Talaabwogh won the best tent, most spirited, and most money raised under the “Atdao” category of the 2014 MMAC.
Team Bodig won the best baton, sold the most luminaries, and raised the most money in the “Pulan” category. The total amount raised by Team Bodig was $17,294.
Team Mount Carmel School won the “rising star” award and most money raised in the “Napu” category.
Team Joeten Dolphins won most laps and Team Pacific Islands Club won the most money raised in the “Put’ion” category.
For most money raised, four categories were included which are schools under “Napu,” non-profit/government agencies under “Atdao,” family under “Pulan,” and corporate group under “Puti’on.”
All winning teams were presented with certificates.
The 2014 MMAC started at 5:30pm on Friday and ended at 6am on Saturday, with various teams marching, running, and dancing around the track in honor of cancer survivors and victims.
Saipan Mayor Donald Flores, who gave the opening remarks, said he is pleased to see many “familiar faces from last year” at the opening of the 2014 MMAC.
“The event marks the beginning of an even bigger challenge, and by coming together and working together as a team, the goal of this event will be a story of success,” Flores said. “The mission of the CCA is perfect and the purpose of tonight’s event is to make sure the work continues on. This march is carrying on that charge and I hope the same familiar faces will be back next year and years after that.
“You are here because you care, you want to make a difference, you want to continue the work you started, you want to make sure no one has to make it alone and struggle alone,” Flores added.
“CCA is here to let everyone know we are all in this together. The funds raised in this year’s march is just a small part of what helps us pull through.”
Cancer survivors from 7 to over 60 years of age were recognized for surviving the fight against cancer. The 2014 MMAC committee members presented them with medallions and commemorative T-shirts.
Twenty-five-year cancer survivor and CCA secretary Bobbi Grizzard was pleased with the honor. “I am glad to be here, to be vertical and alive, and be a survivor. My family is here and my family always comes down to support me and they are always here,” she said.
Grizzard was supported by her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren during the 2014 MMAC.
CCA board treasurer Maggie Camacho, also a survivor, was happy and pleased to have been recognized. She went to the 2014 MMAC with her husband and daughter, Reina Camacho.
Despite an unexpected rain, survivors continued their laps, inspiring many others while music played and tears of happiness were seen in the faces of families of survivors and the survivors themselves.
More than hundreds of luminaries were also lit despite the rain.
Relay races were then started along with the presentation of team members. Teams this year included Mount Carmel School, Talabwoogh Star, Aschoscho, Pacific Islands Club, Kagman High School with Tan Holdings, Bodig, Joeten Daidai Foundation with Marianas High School called Joeten Dolphins, GOP Youth, Marianas Baptist Academy, IT&E with Saipan Southern High School, and Takecare FHP with Grace Christian Academy.
During the closing ceremonies, awards were handed out followed by the “Walk of Life” from the 2014 MMAC committee members as well as the teams and schools that participated.
Manny Borja, 2014 MMAC overall committee chairman, said the committee, sponsors, and teams have put in a lot of effort into making the event happen and they hope the community will continue to take part next year and the year after.
“I’d like to thank all our sponsors, committee, CCA board, and community members for the long months of getting the biggest annual fundraiser in the fight against cancer because without them the event would have never been as successful as it was now,” he said.
The CCA board of directors and 2014 MMAC committee also expressed their gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to the many individuals, organizations, families, partners, and sponsors who helped make the CCA fundraiser a resounding success. (Jayson Camacho)