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Arizona couple put a Samoan football star on the field and in the classroom

August 2011

Rex and Ruth Maughan of Phoenix, Arizona, have a longstanding love for the people of Polynesia. It started when Rex was called to serve a mission in Samoa. Years later, after enjoying success in business, he and Ruth began returning to the island on a yearly basis to do whatever they could to help the people.

“They have very few things,” Rex explained. “Every day they go out and try to find enough food to eat. It’s humbling to see how happy people can be when all they have is the gospel.”

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The Maughans noticed that very few Samoan children advanced past grammar school. They also discovered that Samoans were tremendous athletes and loved sports.

“That’s what they do when they’re not working,” Rex said.

“They’re strong and tough, and they’re winners.”

Being big-time BYU fans—the Maughans attend every BYU game they can—Rex and Ruth decided to donate an annual $12,000 scholarship so a Polynesian athlete could attend school and play football at Brigham Young University. Last year the Maughan’s scholarship was awarded to Eathyn Manumaleuna, a star defensive player who had just returned from full-time missionary service. The scholarship not only puts Eathyn on the playing field, it puts him in the classroom to receive an education. The scholarship covers tuition, books, room and board.

Manumaleuna and the Maughans have become good friends.

“We were with Eathyn at the Athletic Scholarship Dinner earlier this year,” Rex said. “He was at our table and we spent the whole evening with him. He has a lot of gratitude for what he’s received. He is so kind, that he even asked Ruth if he could get her more food.”

The Maughans plan to fund more scholarships for BYU athletes.

“We know what the value is,” Rex said. “One good man like Eathyn will help so many other people in his lifetime.”

(Reprinted with permission from the BYU Athletics Annual Report 2010-2011).