With its traditional home at the Hopwood Middle School soccer field laid waste by the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yutu last October, the Marianas March Against Cancer found a new home this year in an empty field near the Saipan airport.
The 2019 MMAC steering committee co-chairs Carline Sablan and Bobby Cruz both had positive words about the first time the Commonwealth Ports Authority Field, or Airport Field, was used as the fundraiser’s venue, with Cruz even estimating that about 7,000 people attended the event at one point last Friday evening.
“It’s hard to let go of Hopwood because it has been our home; we know how everything works there,” Cruz told Saipan Tribune. “Everything just works there. In terms of logistics we just know exactly what to do.”
That became moot, though, after Hopwood Middle School was destroyed by Super Typhoon Yutu.
The Airport Field, while larger than the one at Hopwood, has its own set of challenges, Cruz said, including the lack of power poles.
“There weren’t any power poles here. It was just basically an open field,” he said, noting that not even lights were available at first.
In a separate interview with Saipan Tribune, Sablan noted both CPA and CUC coordinated with the MMAC steering committee to make the event happen, with CUC even becoming one of the star sponsors of the event.
“We were very fortunate to have CPA come in and help us out in terms of hosting the event on their field,” Sablan said. “Hopwood was devastated by Super Typhoon Yutu and we scrambled but the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. was willing to take us on as a sponsor this year.”
According to Sablan, organizational meetings for the event happened right after Super Typhoon Yutu in late October 2018, before becoming more frequent during the beginning of 2019.
“This year was especially challenging…with Typhoon Mangkhut and Super Typhoon Yutu. Despite all the setbacks, we were able to pull together and make this event possible because we cannot let Team Courage down,” she said, referring to the team composed mostly of cancer survivors and their families.
“That is the goal: to continue year after year,” she added referring to future MMAC plans. “Most likely, it will be here [in the CPA field],” Sablan said, but emphasized that planning for the 2020 MMAC has yet to begin.