Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 206: Do You Know Sam Berns?

Today is a special day... not only is it the first game of the World Series, it's the first time the Red Sox have been back to the Fall Classic since 2007. It's the first game of a rematch between Boston and the St. Louis Cardinals with the Cards desperate to avenge the 2004 loss in four straight to the Sox. It's also Sam Berns' 17th birthday.

If you've never heard the name Sam Berns, that's ok. Most people outside of the city of Foxboro, Massachusetts had never heard of Sam until recently. Sam has a rare condition called Progeria—a rare disease affecting approximately 250 children worldwide that causes an accelerated aging process. He was basically born old. Sam was diagnosed at the age of two—his parents were told there is no treatment, no cure. Most kids don't make it much past the age of 13, so the fact that Sam celebrates his 17th birthday today, is pretty freaking special.

Sam is amazing because he doesn't let the fact he's living with a deadly disease stop him from doing just about anything. He's currently a junior in high school—he has plenty of friends, he plays drums in the school band and he loves sports. While he can't play sports, he can certainly be a fan and not a day goes by where he doesn't wear some article of clothing that displays a Boston team logo.

Because this is such a rare disease that strikes so few babies, there is little funding and research done to find a cure. Lucky for Sam, his mom, Dr. Leslie Gordon, has dedicated her life to finding a cure for this cruel illness. And the foundation, The Progeria Research Foundation, might just be getting a pretty big donation from a pretty big name in the Foxboro area very soon. Like maybe today.

So there's a movie about Sam called "Life According to Sam" that premiered on HBO earlier this week. Click here for the heart wrenching story about a boy whose youth was snatched way too early, and the movie about his life, and one pretty high profile businessman by the name of Robert Kraft who saw Sam's story and made a deal with this special kid. The New England Patriots owner has pledged to Sam to donate to the Progeria Research Foundation—in fact, he will match every dollar donated up to $500,000 until today (Sam's birthday), possibly a full one million dollar check.
"I didn't put myself in front of you to have you feel bad for me," Sam says at the start of the film. "I put myself in front of you to let you know you don't need to feel bad for me. I want you to know me. This is my life, and progeria is part of it. It's not a major part of it, but it is a part of it."
Happy Birthday, Sam! Let's see if those Sox can't get you a celebratory win!!

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