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“Tofiga” headlines fundraiser

Samoan comedian Tofiga [image from You Tube]
Local Special Olynpics athletes heading toward “The Road2AbuDhabi”

If the news on the world front has become a little hard to bear, take heart. There’s a bright spot here in the Territory, and it involves none other than our Special Olympics athletes.

Tafaimamao Tua Tupuola, chairwoman of Special Olympics Amerika Samoa (SOAS) Board spoke to Samoa News recently with this exciting development for the athletes — those brave young people whose motto never fails to inspire: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”.

Coming into town this Friday, Sept. 22 is none other than Samoan comedian Tofiga — formerly a member of the Laughing Samoans duo. Tofiga is no stranger to the territory, and this will be his second time assisting Special Olympics here with major fundraising. His first participation was in July 2014. Tofiga will be staying at Tradewinds Hotel, a continuous sponsor of SOAS, where he will be meeting with SOAS executive board members Friday afternoon. 

Tua-Tupuola noted that the Laughing Samoans are no longer performing together, so this will be a rare opportunity to enjoy a night of laughter with one from the famous duo, Tofiga.

The event will not be aired live on TV — it’s all about the live performance on Saturday night — and the cause is a worthy one.


For the worldwide Special Olympics athletes, the ‘quest for the gold’ runs straight through Abu Dhabi. Located in the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi will be the host of the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.  It is the first place in the Middle East/ North Africa region to host the Special Olympics, which is scheduled for March 14 -21 in 2019.

“The Road2AbuDhabi” is now the local theme inspiring supporters to join the movement, by following and supporting our athletes and unified partners.

 “Their journey includes building athlete leadership, hours of practice and competition, staying healthy to compete, fundraising, and engaging the community in the dreams of possibility and acceptance,” says Tua-Tupuola.

With that in mind, a Road2AbuDhabi Spirit Week has already begun.

On Sunday (9/17) a church service was held at the Fagatogo CCCAS, led by athletes and unified partners.

On Monday (9/18) a “Road2AbuDhabi” Run was held, joined by the U.S. Army Reserve and the Samoa Baptist Academy National Junior Honor Society. They succeeded in running four miles with the Special Olympics Flag.

At the finish line, many volunteers joined them as they transitioned to a “Road2AbuDhabi Wave” for a full 45 minutes, energizing both the athletes and their supporters.

To add to the excitement, a telethon is planned for Saturday (9/23). It will be co-hosted with local icons of the community and joined by Tofiga from 9am- 3pm. Stations will be set up in the Eastern and Western districts, as well as the Gov. R. Lee Auditorium. Bluesky is the preferred telecommunication service provider for the telethon event and is assisting with a Text-Donate feature.

The Road2AbuDhabi benefit dinner — with entertainment by Tofiga on Friday night — promises to be full of laughter. Every table will include SOPAC drinks and beverages as the major sponsor of the event, and DDW Restaurant will be catering for the evening.  


Some noteworthy facts about our local chapter:

•     The SO Amerika Samoa received their official quota from Special Olympics International (SOI), which allows two female and two male athletes to compete in Athletics. 

•     A newly formed team to represent the territory will consist of an all female unified football team, composed of ten athletes and unified partners. Unified Teams include both Special Athletes and those without disabilities to play together.

(Because Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities to compete on the same team.)

•     Total number of delegates traveling from AS now stands at 21; and this includes coaches, a physician, and staff members.

•     In 1979, Pago Pago Rotary Club president James A. Clarke and other members of the community assisted in fundraising the newly established AS Special Olympics. By 1983, the AS Special Olympics was registered as an official non-profit organization by president Joseph Ho-Ching, 1st vice president Tim Halnon, 2nd vice president Jane French, and secretary/treasurer John Samia, Sr.

*     Special Olympics AS was reestablished in 2011 after being dormant for almost 14 years.

•     Special Olympics AS is part of the Asia Pacific Region with headquarters in Singapore. 

•     The SOAS has been able to maintain full accreditation status for 2012-2014 and 2015-2017. 

•     Maintaining full accreditation status allows SOAS to send more than two athletes to compete in the World Games.

•     First Lady of American Samoa, Cynthia Moliga has been the Patron of Special Olympics AS since 2013.