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NHS cancer leukemia fundraiser this week

File photo from last February’s American Samoa Bone Marrow Drive. right to left: cousin Vatau Fanene, sister Michelle Fanene, cousin Sala Fanene, Sharring Fa’amalo Fanene Aoelua Niusulu, baby brother Elefasa Aoelua, mother Faleula Sappa, and cousin Loriann Atiifale. [photo: Banner Fanene]

Twenty-two month’s after being diagnosed with the blood cancer Leukemia, local girl now Hawaii resident Sharring Niusulu, continues to beat the odds.

Born & raised in American Samoa, the Aua Elementary-Faga’itua High-ASCC graduate is grateful that she has lived another year since visiting home last February.  Sharring was able to fly home with her husband, compliments of a dear friend, to take part in the American Samoa Bone Marrow Drive 2011. Nearly 900 names were added to the National Bone Marrow Registry from that effort. 

While a bone marrow match was not found for Sharring from those 900, the memory of that special time lingers with Sharring’s young cousin Vatauomalotetele “Vatau or TauTau” Fanene.Vatau, a Senior and National Honor Society student at Nu’uuli Voc-Tech High School, has put together for this week, a cancer awareness & fundraising campaign called Vatau’s Hope Drive. 

Vatau explained that “For Valentine’s Day I started this Hope Drive for leukemia cancer awareness and to raise funds to help Sharring.  Because of this sickness, she is unable to live a normal pain-free life. She often tells us that she doesn’t want to burden anyone.”

The hard working Senior added, “I just want to do something to help her live!  She is our family hero, a Leukemia Warrior!

When Sharring, who lives in Waipahu Hawaii learned of Vatau’s Hope Drive, she posted last week on Facebook, “Oh my gosh!  I’m in tears right now, reading your message and so very happy for you and this wonderful project. Honestly, you, members of your school/staff, members of our family and everyone who participated in last year’s Bone Marrow Drive have truly made an impact on my life and I’m certain, I speak for all cancer patients in need of bone marrow transplants when I say how THANKFUL we all are that everyone came together for such a worthy cause. My heart is so full of joy & gratitude that you were inspired to raise cancer awareness to your peers, who are the future of American Samoa.”

Sharring continued on the popular world-wide social network, “Please send everyone my love & know that I’m supporting you guys from here. I love you so much dearest cousin Vatau & appreciate your willingness to get this very important project started & in effect.  You’re the BOMB!!!  This wonderful act of kindness motivates me to continue fighting & to never give up hope. Loveyou so much Tau and your Wildcats. [I still have all the beautiful cards & banner & memories of the day I got to visit your school last year].

The weeklong activities kicked off Valentine’s Day with an emotionally charged “Heart to Heart” school assembly Tuesday morning at Nu’uuli Voc-Tech High School.  Sharring’s little sister Michelle Fanene was at the assembly and admitted that, “I am a Viking, but Voc-Tech students have the most pride and spirit of all the High Schools on island!”

After the opening prayer, NVTHS Principal Saouila Kava, NVTHS staffer Salote Fanene, and visiting Samoana High School teacher Faleula Sappa shared teary testimonials of their experiences with cancer and their love for Sharring.  Sappa is Sharring’s mother, Fanene is Sappa’s sister, and Kava is Sharring’s father’s sister.

The program also included soulful accapella vocals by returning Son of Samoa uncle Asofa Fanene who belted classics “Stand By Me” and “Amazing Grace”, NVTHS staffer Miriama Susuga led the student body in a moving religious hymn, a slideshow produced by Vatau, and special guest remarks by cancer survivor Ms. Poha Kalani.

The weeklong activities top off this Saturday with a 6:45 a.m. prayer followed by a fundraising carwash that runs ‘til 3:00 p.m. in front of Samoana High School, Utulei.  Sandwiched in between the Valentine’s Day assembly and the Saturday CarWash are cancer awareness activities on individual High School campuses.

Vatau has recruited and left it to High School National Honor Societies of Faga’itua, Samoana, Tafuna, Leone, Fa’asao/Marist, and Nu’uuli Voc-Tech to customize their cancer awareness activities according to what works best for their school.  She has suggested to the schools to on Wednesday make posters with motivating messages to cancer victims, on Thursday for the American Samoa Cancer Coalition to provide educational information, on Friday a sports day with students wearing Orange for Leukemia, Pink for Breast cancer, Yellow for Kidney Cancer, etc.

Vatau’s Hope Drive’s fitting motto is “Supporting the Fighters, Admiring the Survivors, Honoring the Taken, and Never Ever giving up Hope!”  The loving little cousin encourages everyone to “Be a part of a winning team for Hope.”  Money raised will go to the “Caring for Sharring” non-profit.  For additional 411, telephone Vatau at 733-1532 or email vatau.fanene@gmail.com



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