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Polynesian Luau

A traditional Polynesian luau is becoming a fundraising staple for the Steamboat Springs (Colo.) High School Booster Club. Held in May, the second annual Steamboat Springs Sailor Luau raised about $7,500. 

When a tsunami struck the South Pacific in 2009, Pio Utu, a Steamboat Springs, Colo., community member held a traditional Polynesian luau to help bolster the relief effort. The event raised nearly $30,000 and left the community eager for another luau.

"Pio Utu, one of our community's big sports figures is from Samoa and has family there," says Steamboat Springs High School Booster Club President Scott Glynn. "So he held a very successful relief benefit to raise money after the tsunami struck the islands.  Since Pio is such a driving force with our student-athletes [by volunteering to help them with strength and fitness training programs], we decided to make it an annual event for our scholarship fund and to refill our coffers for athletics and extracurricular activities."

Tickets for the luau cost $20 for adults and $10 for students, and include a dinner buffet with ambient music and traditional Polynesian dancing performed by high school students. A silent auction and raffle are also held with the event.

"It's really neat since it's not something you get to do all the time," Glynn says. "Pio has special recipes for his authentic Samoan barbeque sauce and fried rice, so he prepares those and then we also have a pig roast, smoked turkey and pork, lo mein, and several fruits from the South Pacific.

"We work with three restaurants for this event," he continues. "The booster club buys the food and the restaurants donate the labor to prepare it and deliver it to the school." 

With six people on the luau committee, planning is easy. "Each person on the committee has something to focus on," Glynn says. "We have a chair, someone for donations, decorations, advertising, and then a few who provide ideas and support where needed. There's constant communication between the committee members and myself to make sure all of the i's are dotted and the t's crossed--that helps ensure everything is still going the way it should."

For setting up, tearing down, and keeping things moving at the event, a few volunteers from each athletic team and extracurricular club come to help. "We ask each group to send three or four people," Glynn says. "Setting everything up only takes a couple of hours and tearing it down usually takes about 30 minutes."
 
The luau moves along quickly, which Glynn says helps hold attendees' interest. "We start serving dinner at 6:00 and the food remains available on the buffet until 7:30," he says. "Next we'll do a few raffle and silent auction items that have been donated, and then we give out the booster club's two awards--the fan of the year and the coach of the year.

"We'll do a couple more silent auction and raffle items," Glynn continues. "Then we have a group of high school students who have spent a couple of weeks learning traditional Samoan dances provide the closing show. Seeing these high school kids performing dances they've worked so hard on perfecting is the highlight of the evening. Even if you took the fundraising aspect out of it, this is just a great community event."


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