American Idol Winner Iam Tongi Calls On Fans To Pray For Hawaii Following Devastating Maui Wildfires
Iam Tongi became the first Hawaiian and Pacific Islander to win American Idol when he was named the champion of Season 21. Tongi, who was born in Kahuku, Hawaii, often spoke about his heritage, and made it clear how proud he is to be Hawaiian.
Now, Tongi is calling on his fans to help the people of his native Hawaii.
Hawaiian Wildfires Leave Over 100 People Dead
Wildfires ignited on the Hawaiian Island of Maui on August 8. An August 18 report from CNN states it was “the deadliest US wildfire in more than 100 years.”
As of Friday (August 18), CNN reports that at least 111 people were killed in the fires, including children. The death toll was highest around Lahaina, which is a cultural and economic hub.
According to CNN, the death toll is expected to rise as searches continue.
FEMA estimates the cost to rebuild from the Lahaina fire will be around $5.52 billion. All three Maui wildfires are still active. Follow live updates. https://t.co/R7aS4QbpB4
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) August 12, 2023
Iam Tongi Reaches Out To His Fans To Help Hawaii
Tongi shared a message on Instagram urging his followers to help the people of Hawaii in any way they can. He said:
“The devastating news of Maui hits harder than I can express… I have thought and rethought about ways I could help the people of Maui because I feel incapable seeing people donating so much money that I don’t have and talking with family members and watching videos of people helping each other has made me realize that there’s so much more way to help… if you’re donating money, any amount would help as long we try to make sure it’s going to the right hands… if you can’t donate money, we can look into other ways of donating wether it be clothing, food, time, etc…”
Tongi said since his talent “is music,” he wanted to perform song for the people of Maui. He shared a cover of “Starting All Over Again,” which was famously recorded by Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, known as Bruddah Iz.
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Iam Appears On GMA To Show Support For Hawaii
A few days later, 18-year-old Tongi appeared on GMA to sing “Starting All Over Again” for a nationwide audience. He also called on viewers to help the people of Maui, and keep them in their prayers.
Head below to watch a video of Tongi singing “Starting All Over Again” on GMA. We join him in praying for the people of Hawaii.