Just about everyone in the Long Beach volleyball community knows the Iamaleava family. There’s the patriarch, Nick, who’s an enormous physical and emotional presence at matches, and the matriarch, Leinna, a generous and giving spirit. Leinna and Nick have eight children, all of whom are standouts at one level or another.
Their oldest son, Matt, was a high school All-American at Long Beach Poly and is now a freshman in the Long Beach State men’s volleyball program; daughter Nicaylah is a senior at Poly this year; and Nico is a sophomore volleyball/football player who has a scholarship offer from UCLA in both sports.
The family was hit by hard news late in 2020 that Leinna has stage four breast cancer. The volleyball community is rallying together in an inspirational way to help raise funds for her medical care. The family is heavily involved at the club Mizuno Long Beach, owned by Long Beach State women’s volleyball coach Joy Mckienzie-Fuerbringer, who started a GoFundMe for the family.
“For those of you that don’t have the privilege to know Leinna, she is an amazing mother and person,” said Mckienzie-Fuerbringer.
The GoFundMe is hoping to raise $65,000 to pay for Leinna’s treatment at City of Hope, which doesn’t accept the Iamaleavas’ insurance. So far, the community has donated more than $47,000, including one anonymous $10,000 donation.
Leinna said that it was only through a miraculous turn of events that the cancer was found before it was too late for treatment to help. She was moved to get a mammogram by a friend who was suffering from breast cancer and implored other members of the Polynesian community to get checked.
“It saved my life,” said Leinna, who is also hoping that her story will help other members of her community to make time to get routine checkups.
“I want to share my story, I want women and men alike, especially in our Polynesian community, to take charge of your health,” she said. “Advocate for yourself. You only get one life and one body, take care of it.”