Sunday, May 29, 2011

..The show must go on for circus workers from Joplin..

..Rusty Sparks takes care of the lights in the visiting Shrine Circus, even in the midst of the storm in his hometown..

CTV Saskatoon

Date: Saturday May. 28, 2011 6:54 PM CST

The death toll in Joplin, Missouri continues to rise after last week's tornado. The current total is 139 deaths, making the twister the deadliest one in America in six decades.

The tragedy is being felt across North America, even here in Saskatoon. However, for our visiting neighbors from the south, the show must go on.

Larry Solheim and Rusty Sparks, both from Joplin, are doing last minute checks for the high flying Shrine Circus in Saskatoon. While their professionalism pushes them onward, their minds are far from the colorful lights and glitzy stage. "My wife was texting me, the phone service was out and they we're huddled under a mattress in the hallway at our house," says Solheim.

"It just tears you up from one end to the other, knowing people lost their lives in it," says Sparks.

Last Sunday a massive tornado ripped through the Missouri city. Solheim's home was miraculously spared, but Rusty Sparks wasn't as lucky. His house, and everything in it, was completely destroyed. He got the news he got while doing a show in Regina.

"That instant moment everything inside of me exploded. I mean, the stress level went so high, it was unbelievable," says Sparks.

The next few days were agonizing for Sparks, making sure friends and family in Joplin were alright, while trying to keep in good spirits thousands of kilometers away, helpless to do anything about the disaster.

Both Solheim and Sparks were understandably shaken about the tragic events back home. Still, they stuck to their commitment to put smiles on the faces of children across Canada, which they say provides some emotional comfort.

"It shows that even though you have something tragic going on in life, you can still do good for others," says Sparks. "It's really what this world needs."