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Star-Bulletin Features


Thursday, November 11, 1999



By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Monette Velasco is a real trouper, keeping up with her appearances
in "Miss Saigon" while undergoing kidney dialysis.



‘Saigon’ goes on while
dancer awaits kidney

By Tim Ryan
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

Imagine fulfilling your career dream at age 23 then learning soon after that you have a degenerative disease. Imagine being in the national tour of "Miss Saigon" and having to undergo kidney dialysis for three hours a day, three times a week while still performing eight shows a week. Imagine praying that a kidney matching your blood and tissue type becomes available before you die.


ON STAGE

Bullet What: "From Saigon With Aloha"-- Benefit for The National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, starring members of the "Miss Saigon" cast and Jim Nabors
Bullet When: 6:30 p.m. Monday
Bullet Where: Diamond Head Theatre
Bullet Tickets: $50
Bullet Call: 593-1515


Monette Velasco learned her kidneys were failing while touring with the "Miss Saigon" company in the role of one of the bar girls in North Carolina last April. Two months ago her kidneys pretty much shut down, forcing her to undergo thrice weekly dialysis.

The petite dancer and singer, who is on a transplant list with the National Kidney Foundation, will perform with about 50 other singers and dancers in the "From Saigon with Aloha" benefit at Diamond Head Theatre beginning 6:30 p.m. Monday. Other performers include Joseph Anthony Foronda who plays The Engineer in the musical, and Mike Nishida, who plays Kim.

Funds raised from the $50 tickets will go to the Organ Donor Awareness Program of the National Kidney Foundation. Jim Nabors, who received a liver transplant, is honorary host of the event.

For credit-card ticket purchases, call the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii at 593-1515; tickets will also be available the day of the show only at the Diamond Head Theatre box office.

"I hope people will know that being an organ donor is such an important and easy contribution, a real gift of life," Velasco said. "It's important to have your driver's license identify you as an organ donor but you should let your family know your wishes as well. Timing is everything."



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