Sam, 11, from Champaign is an outgoing kid with a good sense of humor. Diagnosed with a life-threatening cardiac condition, Sam lives with a regimen of medicines, doctors’ visits and a pacemaker implanted in his chest. He’s had several surgeries and has to be careful not to overexert himself physically.
One thing that can always make Sam smile is his favorite football team, The Chicago Bears. A bit of a sports nut, Same describes himself as a “huge fan” and looks forward to watching as many games as he can. When he was referred to Make-A-Wish through medical staff at OSF Congenital Heart Center in Peoria, Sam was quick to tell his wish granters that he wanted a big Bears experience.
Having worked with Make-A-Wish for many years to grant wishes, the Chicago Bears were delighted to be a part of Sam’s dream come true. For a weekend in September 2014, Sam lived and breathed football in the Windy City, shoulder to shoulder with the Monsters of the Midway.
On practice day, Sam and his family were invited up to Halas Hall in picturesque Lake Forest where the team offices and practice fields are located. Sam was welcomed by the staff and signed a contract to join the team and then held a brief press conference about his signing.
Then it was onto the field where he stood at the sideline during the practice watching the players run drills and scrimmage. As the practice ended, several players came over to meet him and sign autographs, including his favorite player quarterback Jay Cutler who gave Sam his water bottle and shoes as souvenirs. Sam even got to eat lunch with the team in the Halas Hall dining room.
Sam’s wish continued on Sunday when the team invited him and his family to historic Soldier Field for the always anticipated match-up against the rival Green Bay Packers. Sam and his family enjoyed a pregame sideline visit before making their way to their seats to enjoy the game.
Sam's family was moved by the generosity of all involved and thrilled to see Sam enjoy the experience so thoroughly. Sam will serve as the Grand Marshal at the 2015 Walk & Run for Wishes in Champaign
on Saturday, September 19 at Hessel Park.