Heartbroken wife: ‘He is fighting for his life’
THE heartbroken wife of smiling Burleigh identity Joe Tongi said her husband is 'still fighting for his life' following a critical neck injury he sustained in the surf over two weeks ago.
In New Zealand with her family at the time of the injury Ebonny Tongi and two of the couple's three children Petu, Mihi Dawn Moana flew home to be by his side.
They remain in quarantine in Brisbane, allowed intermittently to visit their father in hospital daily.
Now the family wants to thank the community who have rallied around the popular local barber and his recovery.
"It is a beautiful community," Mrs Tongi said.
"This is our home and a place that was always our dream to find, we wrote down what we wanted our future and our life to be twenty years ago.
"It was to find a village to be able to ride to school, walk to work, and find somewhere we could really dig our heels into and Burleigh has wrapped us up in a whole lot of love.
"And we have wrapped Burleigh up in a whole lot of love in return.
"They are going nuts for us to help, it is so special, we are so thankful."
Mrs Tongi said she had returned to the country as soon as she was told about the accident.
"When COVID hit us, not being an Australian citizens and the barbershop not being able to have haircuts we decided that I and two kids would go back to New Zealand to wait it out."
Their eldest Trent stayed on the Gold Coast for work.
"I was there for study and self healing and Joe supported me all the way through.
"I came back to him too late," she said.
"His flatmate and good friend was there when I couldn't be. I want to thank her for that."
A strong Tongan man of faith, Mrs Tongi said her husband was at the beach every day.
"Water is his church, every morning he would go down for sunrise," she said.
"That was our thing sunrise.
"He would go down at sunrise and get on his board and sing Tongan hymns that was his church out on the water.
He would send his family videos, daily sunrise videos of him and little scriptures.
"He lived everything really large and really big.
"He is fighting, that's what we want people to know."
>>>WANT TO HELP JOE? CLICK HERE
A GoFundMe page organised to help the family has reached $22,000 thanks to local donations.
The gym where he worked out every morning with his wife, World Gym in Burleigh will also be hosting a fundraiser - Ride for Joe.
Trainer Joely Davie was in tears when talking about the impact Mr Tongi's injury has had on the community.
"He is the life and soul of the place," she said.
"You would see him in the back of the cycle class yelling come on, helping people, just lifting spirits.
"Everything he does he brings energy to so we want to give back and help him and his beautiful family.
"The energy between he and Ebonny is always electric, we just want him back on the Coast.
"We want to send healing vibes to him in hospital and help out in any way that we can to help with his long road to recovery and rehab.
The cycle will be held on Sunday December 6 at 3pm. Participants must book a bike.
Originally published as Heartbroken wife: 'He is fighting for his life'