For the Kekoa Family, Hospice of Hilo’s Annual Celebration of Life is an opportunity to bring loved ones together to pay homage to their late matriarch, Annie Kekoa. Together in their personally designed shirts, they are able to walk in solidarity to remember their beloved great grandmother, grandmother and mother.
“The pain is still there,” said Donna Kekoa, Annie Kekoa’s daughter-in-law, “But we know she’s in a better place, she’s home.”
With their royal blue shirts donated by Big Island Image, emblazoned with silver tribal symbols and a Hawaiian phrase, translated to “Family of Annie Kekoa, Forever in our hearts,” the Kekoa family represents the many groups who come together to help raise funds for Hospice of Hilo at the annual Celebration of Life.
This year, the event will be held on Saturday, May 4, at the big pavilion in Wailoa State Park. Participants can dedicate a 2.3-mile walk around the park and a personalized luminary in memory of their cherished loved one(s). Registration opens 3:30 pm on event day. The walk begins at 5 p.m. and the luminaries will make their way down the river at 7 p.m.
The Kekoa Family has attended the event two years in a row to honor their mother who passed away within hospice care in 2011. To them, it is also about giving back to Hospice of Hilo for the support they’ve received.
“We all lived with mom during her last two months and Hospice of Hilo really came in and supported us. Until her last breath, they really helped us, from what to expect and how to comfort. I don’t know what else to say except they were awesome,” said Kekoa.
“Hospice of Hilo helps families through the process of knowing their loved one is going to leave us soon. Helping us know how to handle the situation. That is real comfort, real compassion,” said Annie Kekoa’s daughter, Nona Makuakane.
This year’s event will offer live music by Brown Ohana, Doug (Espejo) & Boni (Narito), and Hawai`i Men’s Chorus. Prizes will be awarded to teams and individuals who raise the most funds. A variety of ono food and snacks will be available for purchase.
Registration forms and event information can be found at www.hospiceofhilo.org or by calling 969-1733. Luminaries can be purchased at Hospice of Hilo at 1011 Waianuenue Ave. for $20 before event day or for $25 on event day.
“I have seen so many faces who helped us with mom at Celebration of Life,” said Kekoa, “These are people we will never forget because they have touched our lives. Hospice of Hilo is an amazing group.”