Sam Berns' story moved us all

October, 24, 2013
10/24/13
8:13
PM PT
It has been an unforgettable week in the remarkable life of Sam Berns, the now 17-year- old Patriots fan I wrote about last Thursday.

At only 40 pounds, Sam looks 80, has the heart of a child and the brain of a genius. He's aging at eight times the normal rate on account of a disease called progeria. And yet he seems to have zero self-pity.

Since the piece ran, donations have poured in. Sam has appeared on radio shows, witnessed the premiere of an HBO documentary about himself “Life According to Sam” and has been invited to speak to the prestigious TedX convention in Washington, D.C. this week. Oh, and he sat in a luxury box at Game 1 of the World Series as his beloved Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-1. They even showed him on the scoreboard.

His fight for life moved me and, apparently, thousands of you ...

 

Not very often a "sports" article can move one to tears. Yours on Sam Berns was just such an article. Hats off to to Mr. (Bob) Kraft and the Patriots and thank you for bringing this wonderful, poignant story to our attention. Your close was classic! Let's all say a prayer that young Sam makes it to one of those universities.

-- Mike Trodden (San Antonio, Texas)

Progeria researchers believe they are on the trail to a cure. They've discovered the gene that controls a protein that when, in overabundance, causes insanely fast aging symptoms in these kids. But they need $4 million to conduct the clinical tests that might solve it. This is where Kraft's $500,000 for the Progeria Research Foundation -- and the matching $500,000 that they were able to raise through readers like you -- comes in. Congratulations to every person who contributed even $1, but there is so much farther to go.

I have been Sam's history teacher since he came to the high school two years ago. In the past two years Sam has inspired and surprised me over and again. He really is one of the most gracious, energetic, and intelligent people I have met. The best day is when you get a laugh out of him in class- because he has the best laugh!

-- Kristen D'Errico (Foxborough, MA)

Sam is a testament to the power of what a person can accomplish in life!

-- Cam (Toronto)

Fantastic story! I choked up reading it. Sam's challenges certainly puts things in perspective and you just gotta love his mindset. I've been a long time follower of yours and avid sports fan. Thank you so very much for sharing Sam and Robert's heartfelt story that brings out the best in humankind.

-- John Fisk (Seattle)

What an inspiring person and courageous journey Sam is on. His words demonstrate that clearly age and wisdom are not always relative.

-- Nicole Provo (Washington, DC)

The kid is eloquent far beyond his years. Listen to how he talks in this interview with Boston radio hosts Dennis & Callahan.

You could not have written a better article about Sam and Mr. Kraft. He is truly an inspiration and a hero.

-- Joe X (Toronto, Ontario)

Just wanted to say your article on Bob Kraft and Sam Berns was beautiful. I have had the pleasure of meeting Sam myself as he has been to every one our nephew Kristian's Walk for Progeria Research. Kristian was not as fortunate as Sam, but like Sam he was an unbelievable soul who lived his short life to the fullest. Your touching article will touch many. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful to have both of these boys touch my life.

-- Jules (East Bridgewater, MA)

Kids with progeria live, on average, to 13. Sam, now 17, is an outlier. He's a junior in high school. His odds of making it two more years are slim. That's why the money to fund the clinical trials is literally life and death for him.

The Sam Berns article provided a great pick me up today for myself. I'll be honest, I don't normally go for your articles (nothing against your journalism, just don't have a regular interest in your kind of themes), but this was knocked out of the park.

-- Rocky (Morristown, NJ)

Thank you?

I am glad you focused, as Sam himself seems to do, on the amazing positive side of his journey, rather than dwelling on what many would consider the tragedy of it. I would argue, as I imagine Sam would also do, that he is one of the lucky ones, to be given the chance to truly appreciate what he is given in this life, rather than take it for granted and complain about what is missing.

-- Colby Balch (Atlanta)

I'm not sure I'd call Sam "lucky." I'd definitely call him "aware" and wide open to swallowing as much of life as he can eat. If you think life goes by fast, imagine it from behind his eyes.

This is eloquent! You absolutely nailed this article. It's the perfect blend of the hard truth of Sam's illness, his stunning spirit, the true passion of Mr Kraft, and their awe-inspiring attitudes. Bravo!

-- Kristin Todd (Foxboro, MA)

Five years ago I applied to journalism schools because of what you had been doing with Sports Illustrated, taking your last word in a sports publication and bringing light to other worldly issues. In every application to schools I wrote about your "Nothing But Nets" story and how this incredible blend of sport and society could achieve great things. I am in my first quarter as a grad student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and reading your article today reminded me of that first moment I realized I could combine my passions of sports, journalism and social justice into something truly transformational. I just wanted to thank you for inspiring me to pursue this track so long ago, and reminding me today that what we do as journalists can be so important, even life-changing for thousands in Africa, or one Sam Berns.

-- Connor Walters (Chicago, IL)

Thank you and please don't take my job.

Rick Reilly | email

Columnist, ESPN.com

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