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Injured Samoan football player at UH awarded $10,000 grant for rehab

Kalepo Naotala, a Univ. of Hawaii freshman from Virginia who is of Samoan ancestry suffered a serious spinal cord injury on July 1, 2017.  [courtesy photo]
Source: CFAF media release

The College Football Assistance Fund (CFAF) announced that a grant of $10,000 will be awarded to University of Hawaiʻi football player Kalepo Naotala to help with medical and non-medical costs while undergoing rehab for a spinal cord injury.

Naotala, a freshman from Virginia who is of Samoan ancestry suffered a serious spinal cord injury on July 1, 2017 while diving with friends near Waikiki in Honolulu. He was rescued from the water, and had been receiving treatment at The Queen's Medical Center. Recently, however, he was transferred to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado for further rehabilitation.

“On behalf of the University of Hawaiʻi, we wish to extend our appreciation to the College Football Assistance Fund for their generosity and support of Kalepo,” Athletics Director David Matlin said. “This gift will make a big difference in assisting the Naotala family in Kalepo’s road to recovery.”

Naotala’s medical costs will continue rising, meaning fundraising efforts must continue. Those able to assist can make donations at, which will be put in a restricted fund for Kalepo and his family.

“As unfortunate of an incident as it was for Kalepo, the outpouring of support has been amazing,” head coach Nick Rolovich said. “With the help of the College Football Assistance Fund and many others who have generously supported the Naotala family, it will make their journey a little easier.”


“Words can't express how blessed we’ve been in the midst of this trying time for our family. The outpouring of God’s love and grace through prayers, love and support from Virginia to Hawaii and now Colorado has been tremendous! We'd like to thank the College Football Assistance Fund (CFAF) for their support and generous donation in allowing our family to focus on Kalepo and his recovery & rehabilitation. We are grateful and appreciative that such an organization exists and is able to help us out during this critical time in our son’s life.”

Fa'afetai Lava/Mahalo,

Tony & Shantell Naotala


The College Football Assistance Fund (CFAF) is a non-profit tax-exempt organization dedicated to

the support of football players. Assistance is provided to ease the burden of medical costs associated with injuries such as joint replacement, spine treatment, neurological care and other related expenses.

The CFAF was established in 2010 by a group of collegiate coaches and athletic administrators concerned about the limited resources available to injured football players. Major donors include some of today’s top college football coaches and Bowls.