Many of you participated in Ao8’s 2014 Blood Drive a few weeks back. The response from our membership was so great, it literally overwhelmed the San Diego Blood Bank. Thank you to all those who came in support of Siaosi Veimau and the many others who will benefit from your generosity.
We wanted to take this opportunity to tell our story about why this event was so meaningful to us. A close friend to Coach Mel and Art of Eight, Siaosi Veimau, was the inspiration for the blood drive. Sia suffers from pulmonary fibrosis – a medical condition that affects his lungs’ ability to function properly. Although there is no cure for the damages caused by this condition, blood transfusions are a common treatment for people with pulmonary fibrosis until a lung transplant can be arranged. Just recently, we learned that Sia has been granted a lung transplant, which is a HUGE step toward his recovery! We are thrilled with this news, and thank all those who have supported him throughout the years.
As an icon in the Polynesian dance community, Sia is recognized all over the world. He is the owner and operator of Rawmana Fitness, and helps thousands of people better themselves through fitness. Sia is an inspiration to anyone who knows him, which is something Coach Mel can attest to.
Sia and Coach Mel have known each other for over 15 years now, and have remained close friends. They first met at one of Coach Mel’s gym openings, where Sia had offered to come and dance (purely out of his generosity and passion for being involved with the community). Since then, they have built a very strong bond through their friendship.
When asked what he respects most about Sia, Coach Mel didn’t hesitate for a second. “Sia is a hardworking, loving man who is passionate about what he does and passionate about his kids,” Mel shared. “He’s a loving husband and a wonderful father, and those are great attributes. It’s something people aspire to.”
Sia is also extremely generous. Mel also shared that Sia is constantly finding ways to give back to his friends, family, Polynesian dance community and anyone else he meets. He’s the type of person who is always willing to help if he can.
While his condition presents certain difficulties to him as an athlete, Sia remains a strong, driven, and talented individual with a positive outlook on life and a passion for helping others. This blood drive was our way of connecting with the community in an effort to change lives the way Sia does every day, as well as provide him and several others with the resources they need to thrive.
We were able to DOUBLE our donation goal at this event! We had initially set out to reach 25 pints of blood, but were able to collect and donate 54 pints – far surpassing our goal. This was the best turn out the San Diego Blood Bank has had with new clients, as we achieved double the production of any other first-time blood drive. Most of the blood that was donated was already in hospitals being used the following day, helping those in need. We touched 162+ lives with the blood that was donated on that one day.
In addition to the high volume of blood we were able to donate, this blood drive also helped raise awareness for pulmonary fibrosis and Sia’s cause. We really enjoyed seeing everyone at the event – with the live Polynesian music by Pali Roots, fruits, drinks, information on Siaosi and great company, it was a wonderful day. We hope that we were able to communicate our dedication to serving as a powerhouse in giving life and creating opportunities for positive change.