Grieving Cairns family granted special permission to travel
THE family of a former Cairns State High School student who died suddenly in the US has been granted special permission to fly overseas for his funeral.
Leonid Ciuffoli died unexpectedly on April 12 from a suspected undiagnosed heart condition. A US Army infantryman, he was just 20 and leaves behind pregnant wife Kyira and infant son Tak'ari.
His mother, Elizaveta Sergeev-Ciuffoli, and siblings Anton and Isadora Ciuffoli were yesterday on their way to the US to say goodbye.
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said he helped the family get passports and an exemption to head overseas.
Anton Ciuffoli said he wished the situation was "a cruel joke" and that he had been looking forward to spending Christmas with his brother.
"I will never be able to understand why you were taken from us so soon, with so much life to give," he said.
"My brother lived his life to the fullest and brightened up any moment he was a part of. It didn't matter what mood you were in; he somehow found a way to make you laugh.
"Leon was a great father who loved his son and wife and he worked hard to support them. You will be missed so much, and life will not be the same without you.
"I also want to thank everyone for the support and overwhelming generosity through this tough time. This has been an absolute nightmare due to COVID-19, but we are finally on our way to be reunited with Leon."
Colleagues and members of the US Army Fort Myer boxing team tuned in to a radio memorial to the young Australian-American on the weekend.
Trainer Aaron Snowell said Leonid was "looking for a better life in boxing, to turn pro and to become world champion".
"I watched him training. He was a hard worker, very great boxing skills and had a great training team," Mr Snowell said. "Boxing can propel an unknown person to the heights of success. Leo had a reputation of a talented boxer."
Originally published as Grieving Cairns family granted special permission to travel