Day at Zoo Kicks Off National Cancer Awareness Month

Mari Galiher
Mari Galiher
Janelle and Madison Komatsu
Janelle and Madison Komatsu

Honolulu (KHNL) - More than two thousand children and their families spent the day at the Honolulu Zoo, but no scary animal can compare with the terrifying ordeal these kids have been through.

The familes were there to kick off National Cancer Awareness Month.

About 50 to 60 children in Hawaii have been diagnosed with cancer, or relapse each year. Events like today's jungle adventure let these children know that they are not alone.

Mari Galiher was diagnosed with cancer when she was only 4-years-old. Too young to understand but not too young to recognize its effects on her family.

"I remember my mom and dad were sad i understood but didn't know the actual impact of it," said cancer survivor Mari Galiher.

Now Mari, 15, has won her bout with cancer and is helping others to cope with the disease.

"Events like the jungle adventure here at the honolulu zoo it helps families who have cancer just get out and know other people are there for them," said Galiher

It's more than just a fundraiser. It's a celebration and awareness campaign for childhood cancer survivors.

"Cancer touches the lives of so many and until madison was diagnosed we didn't realize how big this was and how many kids are diagnosed each year," said Janelle Komatsu, mother of cancer patient, Madison Komatsu.

Cancer awareness month is recognized across the nation, but here in Hawaii patients have built special bonds with one another.

"There's a sense of aloha here where we've met families since madison has been diagnosed that have been so supportive and the foundations has been supportive as well," said Janelle Komatsu.

The road to recovery can be rough, but with the support of organizations like H.C.C.F. the battle can be won.

H.C.C.F. was founded in 1991 and is the only organization in Hawaii whose exclusive focus is helping children with cancer and their families. They receive no federal funds, and all proceeds from today's fundraiser will stay here in Hawaii.