Frank “The Crank” Camacho and Ji Hoon Heo are no longer based on Saipan, but they can still be relied on when it matters the most.
Camacho, who now resides in Guam, and the Mississippi-based Heo are with groups that organize relief efforts for Saipan and Tinian after the two islands were struck by Super Typhoon Yutu late last month. The MMA fighter is with Sons of Saipan and a day after Yutu hit the Marianas, he called on his friends and supporters for donations via “The Crank” Supplies Drive in Guam. Items collected were then brought by SOS and handed over to Marianas Young Professionals to be distributed to the typhoon victims.
Heo, the former CNMI No. 1 junior player, on the other hand, led the creation of a website (yuturelief.com) and Facebook account (NMI-Super Typhoon Yutu Relief Resource Group) to guide former Saipan residents on how to send help to the battered islands. The two serve as the online directory that organizes all the Yutu relief efforts around the U.S. Guam and NMI and as of this week, the Facebook group has nearly 1,000 members. Donation drop-off points, shipment dates, and list of reliefs needed are posted at the Facebook group.
“We have over 900 members (979 as of last Monday) who are working together to help the islands,” said Heo, who monitored the super typhoon even before it slammed Saipan and Tinian.
“I started following before it hit and I was worried about Saipan and then it got to a category 5. I was really worried then. But it really hit me hard when I started seeing all the photos on FB from people who I grew up with. Me and my Saipan friend, J.P., started to brainstorm and we came up with a website yuturelief.com with the goal of organizing the efforts. Saipan is my home and will always be and if I made a small difference, I would be happy,” Heo said.
As for Camacho, he felt it’s his obligation to help the people of Saipan and Tinian.
“I think it’s very important for people to help the best they can. Saipan and Tinian very severely affected and damaged by the storm and I feel it’s our obligation to help our bothers and sisters in need. If it’s the other way around, we would definitely be getting help. So there shouldn’t be any question whether we should help or not,” Camacho said.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran, who had his share of struggles in the octagon cage, added that it’s very heartwarming to see everyone stepping up to help and this will only make it easier for both Saipan and Tinian to recover.
“In my last fight, I was knocked out in front of millions of people. It was the worst loss of my career to date. But because of the island fighting spirit we all posses and the resilience we somehow find within ourselves, we get back on our feet, keep moving forward and fighting for our families and our community,” Camacho said.
“Seeing families get together, friends reaching out, and strangers offering a helping hand make this place so beautiful. Everyone plays a role, may we all know our role and contribute the best we can to the recovery of the islands. And may we be grateful for what we have—each other,” he added.