Who is your hero?
We used to get asked this all the time. In elementary school, we wrote benchmarks, paragraphs, and essays on the subject. We wrote our heroes letters and gave them cards to show them how much we love and admire them. Some of us knew our heroes personally. they were family members: a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or maybe a cousin overseas in the military. Others of us chose our heroes not based on an individual trait, but for the mere bravery and strength that they had for choosing their profession: a police officer, doctor, firefighter, or the President of the United States.
My hero, however, is different. My hero isn't a celebrity. She isn't famous or well-known. My hero isn't big or tall. My hero hasn't saved anyone from a burning building or performed brain surgery, but she's the strongest person I know. She's incredibly smart and always happy.
She values her family and is a wonderful big sister. My hero is sweet and kind, sassy and spunky. She is curious and determined, motivated and driven. My hero is outgoing and friendly. People are drawn to her, and leave wanting to be a better person. She is charismatic and charming, always wanting to push the boundaries and exceed the expectations. My hero is beautiful: big blue eyes, silky blond hair, and the biggest smile I've ever seen. My hero melts the heart of even the coldest people, and encourages them to be better and go outside their comfort zone.
She's not quiet or shy, she just doesn't talk much. My hero doesn't walk; she runs! Her laugh is infections. When she giggles, you can't help but smile too. She is always very forgiving and never holds grudges. She never acts out of spite, jealousy, and revenge. My hero doesn't have a mean bone in her body.
Sammy will turn five this summer. She wasn't supposed to ever walk. But she does. She runs, walks, and crawls all over her house. She wasn't supposed to talk. she does. Her vocabulary is limited, but she can talk.
When Samantha was born, her parents Marcus and Jenny were told that, in essence, their daughter was going to be a vegetable. Sammy has a rare genetic condition: Primary Autosommal Recessive Microcephaly. Her head is smaller than the rest of her body because of it. She also has cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
I've known Sammy's family since I was Sammy's age. I grew up with her uncles babysitting me. I carpooled to middle school with her aunt. My dad worked in Boy Scouts with Sammy's uncles. We live in the same neighbrohood as the Green family and we see them all the time. We've come full circle now.
Now I baby-sit Sammy and her little sister Callie. My sisters and I gave them the wagon that we've outgrown. Callie and I was "Tangled" together. We play doctor and put Band-Aids on my dogs. Every Wednesday, I do basic physical therapy with Sammy so her mom can get some stuff done while Callie naps.
Working with Sammy has taught me so much. Despite her struggles, she is such a smart little girl! Just looking t her, you can see the light in her eyes and know that she is very intelligent. She always has the biggest smile on her face and she laughs at pretty much everything.
Her parents, Marcus and Jenny, have registered her for the "Now I Can" three week therapy program designed to help children with cerebral palsy. Sammy will be attending it next fall. It costs $6,000 -- and their insurance does not cover it.
I've heard people say that chivalry, common courtesy, and Good Samaritans don't exist anymore. A few months ago, I would have agreed with you. You don't hear many of these feel-good stories on the news. This feel-good story has unfolded right before my eyes and it is truly incredible.
We held a Chevy's Fundraiser in April to help raise money for the therapy. Thank you so much to everyone and anyone who attended that fundraiser. We rose close to a thousand dollars for Sammy's therapy. A thousand dollars. All because good people chose Mexican food for dinner that night and brought a flyer for Sammy.
Our own Leighdership has been incredible with their support for this cause. Meagan Michael arranged for Jenny to visit Leighdership and explain the situation Meagan also coordinated a bake sale, with all proceeds going to Sammy.
Claire Hardester has her own business up and running: Cupcakes for Claire (ask her about it -- her cupcakes are amazing!).
Here's the time that I shall plug away shamelessly at you for actually spending your time reading this column: I'm one of the organizers of the Sweatin' for Sammy 5k. We're holding it May 21 at Quicksilver. You can find more information on Facebook or at www.sweatinforsammy.com. A 5k is a little over three miles. you don't have to fun it. Run, walk, jog, crawl, skip. It doesn't matter. Get your exercise for the day and help to change this girl's life. Do you really have anything to lose?
We love success stories. Duh. Who wants to hear a story about a total failure full of pain and heartache?
Hundreds of movies trailers use the line 'based on the unbelievable true story.' We love the heart-warming, tear-jerker, feel-good movies: "The Blindside," "Remember the Titans," "Apollo 13." Sammy is one of those stories. Maybe Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks don't star in this story, but that doesn't make it any less miraculous.
This is an unbelievable true story. It doesn't take place far away -- it takes place right here in our community. Sammy has come so far and exceeded so many expectations, it is truly inspiring.
All year my column has been focused on my experiences as a senior in high school. The fact of the matter is that my senior year would not have been the same without Sammy. she has definitely changed my life. And I'm going to do everything in my power to change hers.
Sammy has inspired me.
Now I want to be the hero.
Will you join me?