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Monday, February 08, 2010

Gov. Togiola welcomes home Domata Peko, Rey Maualuga and Jonathan Fanene; Samoan Bengals donate $40,500 to disaster relief fund

Governor Togiola Tulafono today welcomed home Domata Peko, Rey Maualuga and Jonathan Fanene of the Cincinnati Bengals.

In welcome remarks at the Office of the Governor, Governor Togiola lauded the three NFL players on their achievements in the National Football League, which has put “American Samoa in the limelight.”

In a special presentation, Domata Peko, on behalf of his teammates, the Cincinnati Bengals and the people of Greater Cincinnati, presented to Governor Togiola a check in the amount of $40,500 as their contribution to the American Samoa Disaster Relief Fund.

The following is the text of the presentation at the Office of the Governor Conference Room:

11:15 A.M. SST

Governor Togiola Tulafono: Talofa. We are so honored to have our famous Bengals back home. I had made a prediction that you were going to meet the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl. Perhaps down the line we let up on our prayers. Oh well, there is always next year.

I would like to welcome Domata Peko, Rey Maualuga and Jonathan Fanene back home. Thank you very much for honoring us with your presence on island, to visit your families, friends, and to also meet with us here today. I know your visit was largely driven by your desires to give a little of yourselves and sharing a little bit of your fame with us here at home, and at the same time contributing to the recovery of our people who have been devastated by the events of September 29th.

It is very heartwarming for me as Governor to be able to receive young people like you who really have everything in your hands and in your lives that you don’t really need to worry about what else is outside of it, but we know that you are doing it because you are very caring people; very caring young men with excellent home training and rearing with Samoan values and Samoan upbringing. Some of your parents are pastors in American Samoa or have served in the ministry, and so it is quite excellent for you to have had good counsel in your young lives. Thank you for being home.

When Mr. Scott Pelly of 60 Minutes asked on the “Football Island’ segment what makes Samoan so big and I said “Big is beautiful” - What I really wanted to add to that was Samoans have such big hearts we need big bodies to put it in. I see that in all of you today. Thank you for your big hearts. You’ve brought your big hearts home so that you can share with our island community.

I would also like to acknowledge the presence of Reverend Alataua Si’itupe Peko and Mrs. Suafa’asisina Peko, Domata’s parents, and Mrs. Purinisese Peko McMoore and the rest of the Peko family and friends, and also to the families and friends of Jonathan Fanene and Rey Maualuga – congratulations to you all – you have every reason to be proud of your sons, your kin, and what they have been able to do for themselves and for all of us. In their achievements, American Samoa shares the limelight. Because of them 60 Minutes came on island. As you know these Bengals were featured specially on “Football Island” because it was these fine Samoan NFL players that got the attention that put us in the limelight.

Bringing you home today, I can tell you that there are many young people on island who look up to you, as you have looked up to your Samoan NFL brothers who came before you, and I hope that they will have an opportunity to just shake your hand and hug you and share your heart with them. And so on their behalf, I want to thank you very much for coming home and sharing this time with us.

As a former policeman here in American Samoa, I would like to tell you a story from long ago when I was riding a small bus. I was sitting behind the old driver and I said to the old man, “You know, you’ve been driving this bus for such a long time that I don’t recall you ever getting a ticket. How is that?” The old bus driver said, “You see, son, I keep both of my hands on the steering wheel, and Jesus’ hands are on top of both of them. I can’t go wrong.”

Domata, Rey and Jonathan, keep the Good Lord always with you and you can’t go wrong.

I would like to thank you very much for all that you’ve done for all of Samoa in the National Football League and for all that you are still doing, and will continue to do. We welcome you home.

Domata Peko: Governor, first I would like to thank God for this opportunity to be in your presence because we really look up to you. It is an honor to be able to be here to speak to you. And it is even more of an honor just to be back home. On 29th of September, back in Cincinnati we were devastated in hearing that Samoa was hit by a tsunami. We also felt the pain because many of our families and our relatives were affected by it and even lost their lives.

Jonathan, Rey and I wanted to put some money together to help out. So, we had a big fundraising rally in Fountain Square in Cincinnati and more than 2,000 people came out to support – we signed autographs, gave out jerseys and auctioned out many things – it was a big success.

So, Governor Togiola, on behalf of Rey Maualuga, Jonathan Fanene, the Cincinnati Bengals, Greater Cincinnati - the Tri-State areas of Ohio, Indiana, and Northern Kentucky, we wish to present to you this check for the amount of $40,500 as our united contribution to the recovery and rebuilding efforts here at home in American Samoa.

Governor Togiola Tulafono: On behalf of American Samoa, and on behalf of the people who will receive the benefits of your grace and your compassion, and especially those who are in need of help at this time, I wish to thank you for this huge donation. What you have done is most gracious. For all the families that will be receiving this gift of love – those who will receive this assistance directly, I want to say thank you to the three of you – Domata, Rey and Jonathan, and to the Cincinnati Bengals, and all the good people of Greater Cincinnati and the Tri-State area for this wonderful donation. May God bless you and the big hearts that He gave you in giving back to your island home in time of need. We wish you all the best for the rest of your careers. I wish you good health and all the success in the world. Take care of yourselves. Stay healthy, stay good, stay positive in the midst of adversity. Thank you again. Good luck to you. All the best. Fa’afetai le alofa. [Thank you for your love.] Soifua. [Farewell and good health.]

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