Prayer events planned for Kenoi

  • Former Mayor Billy Kenoi holds a guitar signed by band members of the Eagles, the prize for a “heads or tails” game at the 2016 Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation Awards Ceremony at the Fairmont Orchid. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file)

HILO — Friends of former Mayor Billy Kenoi have planned a “worldwide prayer gathering” for noon Saturday.

The public is invited to group prayer events at Keauhou Canoe Club in Kailua-Kona and Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo, said Roberta Wong Murray, one of the organizers.

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Simultaneous prayers “for healing and strength” are planned on the mainland and in Europe and Japan, said George Handgis, an organizer and personal friend of Kenoi. A Facebook fan page, I mua Billy Kenoi, showed people already planning prayers.

Kenoi, who served as mayor from 2008 to 2016, was diagnosed in late 2015 with myelofibrosis, a rare chronic leukemia that causes excessive scar tissue to form in the bone marrow, impairing its ability to produce normal blood cells.

He underwent a bone marrow transplant and then, in late March, said in a Facebook post the cancer had returned and he would undergo aggressive chemotherapy and treatment over the next month.

Handgis said Thursday he and Sam Choy flew to visit Kenoi a couple of weeks ago. The former mayor is being treated at City of Hope, in Duarte, California.

“He’s doing great,” Handgis said. “He’s the toughest guy I know.”

Organizers expect about 50 people at the Keauhou Canoe Club and more than 200 at Liliuokalani Gardens.

“We wanted to do something on the west side of the island,” Murray said.

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No organized event is planned in Waimea, but Patti Cook said people will be sending prayers and best wishes. She said they’ll also wear blue buttons or blue bands with the #ImuaBillyKenoi hashtag.

“We’re all sending him our very best,” Cook said.

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