The tragic Samoan earthquake and tsunami have brought tears and heartache to Branson, as the tragedy became personal for the Samoan performers in the Island  Fire Show at the Dutton Family Theatre.

Iefata Saoleititi and his wife Rachel were celebrating the September 22nd birth of their baby daughter Deanna Marguerite when they received the news that their two year old son, Iefata Jr., perished in the disaster.  The boy had been staying with Iefata’s parents in Samoa during the Island Fire performance season.

The Saoleititi’s are planning to return to Samoa on October 6th, provided they can arrange for an emergency issuance of a passport for baby Deanna.  Branson City Administrator, Dean Kruithoff, has already contaced Senator Bond’s office for assistance in the matter.  Dean and Alderman Cris Bohinc visited with the grief-stricken family today to offer their condolences and support.

Bella Dutton, the wife of Jonathan and a native of Samoa, announced that there will be an Island Fire Show fundraiser held at the Dutton Theater on Saturday, October 3rd at 8 PM.  She told us, “Our Island Fire performers felt a need to present their show on Saturday night in an effort to raise money for Iefata and Rachel to return home to Samoa, as well as covering burial expenses.  Flights to Samoa, particularly at the last minute, are very expensive.  Tickets will be $10 and all proceeds will go towards helping the Saoleititi’s.  Those wanting the Island Fire meal that normally comes with the purchase of a full-priced ticket may purchase it for an additional$10.  Any additional funds will be directed to helping the other performers who have lost family, friends and homes.”

Another performer, Poinsettia (Tia) Taefu was awaiting word on her sister who was missing when she received a call saying her sister was safe.  The relief was short-lived when she was then told her cousin’s three children had perished.  Tia’s home and village was also destroyed, as was the home and village of fellow performer Luisa Tagomoa.

Bad news also reached other performers, including Hanson Simi Paialii, Jr., Malakai Lavatai, and Salele Moeai, along with Bella Dutton, as they learned of extended family members that died in the disaster.

Aside from the fundraiser this Saturday, Sheila Dutton told us, “We have also established a relief fund to help all of the families of our Island Fire performers.  Anyone wishing to contribute can make donations at the Dutton Family Theater Box Office, bring them to the fundraising event, or deposit them to the Island Fire Family Relief Fund at Ozark Mountain Bank.  We have arranged to keep the fund open throughout the remainder of the Island Fire Season which runs through first week of December.”

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