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A medical fund forSam Burrington

$114,368 given of $100,000 goal

PROGRESS on BRINGING SAM HOME!

Started by: Linda Plazonja

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Our son Sam, Pierce ’09 & BHS '13, broke his back in a skiing accident in Utah in February. He was discharged from Spaulding in April, and is now receiving outpatient therapy there. Sam is doing a super job of adapting to life in a manual wheelchair!

We’re renovating Sam’s apartment in our 2-family house in Brookline Village to make it accessible. Currently Sam and friend Ben are renting a house on Walnut St. That perfect situation ends July 31 when they make way for long-term tenants. We hope to sign a lease on another home, in Newton, for Aug/Sept/Oct. But… if you know of any accessible Brookline properties available short-term, let us know, just in case!

Thank you, dear friends and wonderful neighbors, for your love & support for Sam and for us. For 30 years, Brookline has been home. Now we know what that REALLY means!

Abby Swaine (abby.swaine@gmail.com) and Steve Burrington

Latest Update

Dear Friends, this week’s photo shows Sam working out in a rented racing chair. Para-sports mean learning to be a contortionist and an acrobat, hopping from your street chair to your cycle or other equipment, while stuffing big numb appendages into narrow slots. It also means learning to be a mechanic to make adjustments and maintain your equipment. Disability is a DIY scene to an astonishing degree! Sam accepts all such challenges, making the most of this first summer of the rest of his life.

Posted by Linda

August 11 at 12:43pm

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Roula Kappas — 1 week ago

Very proud of Sam.

On July 29, Sam and Ben will move to their last temporary location: the former home of artist “Sidewalk Sam,” who lived 20 fulfilling years as a paraplegic before he passed away in 2015. His son Rob Guillemin, my dear colleague and neighbor, offered his funky-accessible, beautiful family home the moment he learned of Sam’s injury. I see this outcome as a manifestation of Sidewalk Sam’s transcendent generosity of spirit, channeled through Rob. Here’s to Sam’s memory, and the power of love! Abby

Posted by Linda

July 27 at 11:56am

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Roula Kappas — 1 week ago

Have a good day Abbie!

A rude awakening for us sustainable transportation buffs is that Sam really needs to drive to many places where formerly he’d walk, bike or take the T. So he took a few lessons, got his new license, and picked up his new Subaru with hand controls! It’s tricky dis- and re-assembling his wheelchair while parked on the street, but he’s getting faster. His real enemy is roadway congestion-- we able-bodied folks can help by driving less, and driving carefully! Abby & Steve

Posted by Linda

July 20 at 4:30pm

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Roula Kappas — 1 week ago

Hi Abby and Steve.

Like a Phoenix from the Ashes: having spent the weekend prostrate with an infection, Sam was up at the crack of dawn on Wednesday, dressed for work, eating breakfast standing up! Sam’s sturdy constitution helped him recover fast. His new position at John Moriarty & Associates engages his mind, and his terrific colleagues are supporting his adaptation in all ways...including wrangling with insurance! Yay, JMA! —Abby & Steve

Posted by Linda

July 14 at 12:09pm

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Roula Kappas — 1 week ago

Have a good day!

Michael Sciarini — 3 weeks ago

JMA really is a phenomenal company to work for. I’m not surprised at all that they stepped up to accommodate Sam and keep a driven guy like same onboard. Makes me proud to work for this company. Very glad to see Sam striving and look forward to seeing him again in the future?

Dear Friends, this week’s action photo shows Sam OUT of action, spending Saturday in the ER. It’s hard to know you have a “situation” in a part of your body that’s numb. Learning how to tell, and what works to nip it in the bud, is part of adapting to SCI. Sam rallied to enjoy a quiet evening drinking Pedialyte with buddies who love him through thick & thin. We crept off to bed... A&S

Posted by Linda

July 7 at 2:10pm

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Perhaps it’s easier to adapt to paralysis if you’ve never been fond of exercise. As a lifelong athlete, Sam feels his loss keenly, but he’s just as driven to move, exert and win. Recently an accomplished young parathlete showed Sam racing wheelchair basics, and he’s hooked!

Posted by Linda

June 30 at 7:57pm

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Stephen Kuehn — 7 weeks ago

Go Sam!! Do it!

A very special, if rainy recent Tuesday morning saw Sam heading off to work at John Moriarty & Associates. His terrific managers there have given Sam a new role and an accessible workspace at their Winchester HQ. Community at work, home, friends, rehab...they give us the strength to carry on! —A&S

Posted by Linda

June 24 at 10:08am

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Dear All— We’ve always relished Sam’s love of nature, which in the past took him to the tops of mountains, onto the crests of waves, and down to the bottoms of canyons and coral reefs. His thirst for natural beauty is for now slaked by scenic cycling, here on the Nashua River Rail Trail with stalwart college buddy Derek. Enjoy every beautiful summer day! —A&S

Posted by Linda

June 11 at 12:03pm

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Update: Part two: When invited to meet at an eatery with steps, will Sam be tempted to decline if he’s not feeling up to being a spectacle? I’ve got to think that commercial spaces with doorways that say “Welcome!” (even if they don’t have to meet code for accessibility) will make more money from all sorts of customers— not only the disabled and elderly, but also the encumbered, the unsteady and the ambivalent. Our new mantra (repeat after me): “If in doubt, ramp it!” —Abby

Posted by Linda

June 2 at 12:01pm

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Update/Part One: Dear All— Let’s call this week’s update “A Tale of Two Doorways.” Actually, I don’t know the tale—how one ended up perfectly accessible, while the other presents a barrier. They’re directly adjacent, in spaces with similar elevation and interior dimensions, in our favorite place to eat and shop, Brookline Village. Sam can usually hop a step, but is there room on the landing to open the door? ......con't in next update.....

Posted by Linda

June 2 at 12:01pm

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Dear All— This beautiful Memorial Day saw Sam spinning his new/used hand cycle along the scenic Neponset River Greenway. The accompanying action photo shows Sam a few days earlier, trying the cycle for the first time after Jason Fowler (parathlete champion marathoner and Ironman) helped him put it together. We’re touched and impressed by the generosity with which men like Jason, injured years ago and now leading full lives (and then some!) mentor and inspire recently injured young fellows like Sam. —Abby & Steve

Posted by Linda

May 28 at 11:36am

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Caroline Fry — 11 weeks ago

Thanks for sharing Sam's progress, he is a true inspiration.

Alan Cohen — 11 weeks ago

Sam, Abby & Steve. Your spirit, community inclusion and family love is a great gift to us all. Please keep the posts coming. Thank you!

Hello Friends-Of-Sam! For those of you who like us are of mid-century modern vintage, or older, the long-leg braces Sam is wearing may remind you of polio victims. Bingo! Sam's outpatient PT Molly says they haven't changed much since the bad old days of that epidemic. It's not yet clear of what practical use these might be, other than stimulating circulatory and bone health, but Sam may learn to "walk," supported by his arms, in a gym setting. It sure is nice to see him standing!

Posted by Linda

May 17 at 12:52pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 13 weeks ago

Looking tall, Sam! I just love these updates. It's wonderful to see anything that Sam is up to. Those of us who live far yet feel so connected to Sam and his progress are very thankful and I hope the updates don't stop coming!

Mother’s Day greetings! We don’t make much of the holiday in our family, but every year I pause to reflect on how much joy being Sam’s mother has given me. This year is no exception: I’m prouder of Sam now than I was during his days as a seemingly invincible scholar-athlete-outdoorsman. Sam deals with daily challenges by focusing on mastery & independence, on what he can enjoy & achieve. Three recent examples: indoor rock climbing (now without help from his legs), rolling solo all the way to Jamaica Pond to bask in its Spring beauty (2 miles round trip), and wrangling with insurance companies without losing his temper. Witnessing Sam’s calm, clear-eyed strength in adversity, and seeing him loved by friends old and new, makes this a happy day for me. —Abby

Posted by Linda

May 10 at 8:08pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 13 weeks ago

Oh, and happy belated Mother's Day, Abby! You are an inspiration to all moms.

Lynn Ware Peek — 13 weeks ago

So cool to see Sam climbing! I have thought of it often as we were talking about climbing as we drove to Snowbird on the day of the accident. I am so heartened to know that Sam is tackling all of these things that must bring him joy. And quite amazing that he can be calm in interaction with insurance companies. Go Sam!

Frances Shedd-Fisher — 13 weeks ago

Beautifully expressed, Abby. You are fortunate to have such a remarkable son.

Linda Darveau — 14 weeks ago

We will all hug our kids a little harder this Mother’s day. Abby you are an inspiration and we know where Sam gets it from. 💕

Dear Friends, it continues to warm our hearts that you look for and enjoy updates about Sam. This week, Sam was buoyed by a visit to the main office of his wonderful employer John Moriarty Associates to look over his new workspace and discuss his new role. In Brookline, he was welcomed with open arms at favorite pub Matt Murphy’s, where I spied a motto behind the bar (see photo) that resonated. Sam expanded his mobility options by riding the D Line with Ben to see a movie at Fenway. Renovations by the amazing Amelia Taco (JAT Construction) on Sam’s apartment are going strong. Of course, the week focused per usual on therapy and exercise to help maximize Sam’s health and capabilities. Life is different, and more difficult, but still good... in large part due to friendships and community. (Don’t forget to vote on May 7!) Abby & Steve

Posted by Linda

May 4 at 11:44am

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Dear Friends, less frequent updates doesn't mean less is happening! We’ve been even busier since Sam's return to Brookline than the Spaulding pros warned. Organizing personal care routines...getting to outpatient appointments...taking delivery of equipment such as the new standing frame you see here...and seizing the day! Since taking up residence on Walnut St, Sam has: --Watched the Marathon in Coolidge Corner with his girlfriend Emma and wheeled all the way home. --Wheeled to/from Schick Park to hunt Easter Eggs. --Dined at Barcelona Wine Bar in Washington Square, twice. --Tried 3 hand cycles at an expo at UNH Durham. --Wheeled with a new fellow para friend down Walnut Path (steep!) and across Route 9 to have dinner at Pomodoro. --Hosted a friend's birthday party. --Heard a concert at Paradise Rock Club. --Taken his first on-road driving lesson with hand controls. --Lunched at Rifrullo. All this despite handling some new physical challenges as he continues to heal. GO, SAM!

Posted by Linda

April 25 at 1:57pm

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All went as planned— Sam and Ben have been reunited in Brookline! The house we’re renting on Walnut St is just a five minute walk from ours, and its owners are wonderful. A kind and skilled neighbor added a sturdy ramp so Sam can get in and out easily. Sam wheeled down the block and had his first haircut at iToo and his first grocery shop at Kurkman’s. Work has begun in earnest on making Sam’s apartment in our house accessible. (Please keep your eyes out and ears open for another accessible 2+ bedroom temporary space for Sam and Ben for the last months of our renovation— August and September.) Next week, outpatient rehab and many other efforts to increase Sam’s independence (like driving) begin. We don’t know what we would have done without your wishes, dishes and gifts throughout these past six weeks of huge change, and look forward to thanking many of you in person as we soldier forward! With love, Abby, Steve and Sam

Posted by Linda

April 14 at 7:24pm

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Frances Shedd-Fisher — 15 weeks ago

My lord! I am overwhelmed at the resilience and energy of the entire Burrington family! Sam, your accomplishments make me hang my head in shame at how little I get done. No more excuses. You are an inspiration. (I suspect you are a little sick of hearing that.) I love the photos and the updates. Life is good in spite of all.

Lynn Ware Peek — 18 weeks ago

Oh Sam! You have worked so hard and you're now (almost) home! This makes me so happy to see and it's great to see Ben there with you. Hope you two have a blast in your new temporary digs. I'm sure many stories will be forthcoming. Can't believe it's been six weeks. Feels like an eternity in some ways, then I see how far you have come and you've done it all so quickly. Much love from Lynn and Bob.

Toni Lansbury — 18 weeks ago

Welcome home, Sam! Hope to see you in the hood. Keep crushing it. You’re amazing. Xo

Today’s photo is like the New Yorker cartoon caption contest: what’s happening here? Right answers include: 1) Sam is practicing kneeling, which is pretty challenging when you can’t feel or move below your chest; 2) Sam is managing to “shake his booty” while kneeling, amazing his PT Trina; and 3) both are feeling the miraculous bond that develops between a devoted therapist and the patient she inspires. If any of you, dear friends of Sam, are in a position to leverage corporate giving toward Spaulding, you would be investing in sharing this unmatched hope and energy with others from all walks of life. https://spauldingrehab.org/giving

Posted by Linda

April 10 at 10:14pm

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“Dear All, if all goes as planned, on Thursday Sam will arrive on Walnut St—his home-near-home until the end of July! Roommate Ben is almost moved in already. Frankly, the transition from the superbly all-inclusive environment of Spaulding to outpatient status is a bit scary for us parents, but thanks to your generosity we’ll be just a 4 minute walk away should Sam need help! Demolition has already started in Sam’s and Ben’s apartment on Emerson St. Last week we had a marvelous outing on recumbent bikes with Sam and therapists along the harbor walk in Charlestown— so freeing for Sam to roll with such ease!”

Posted by Linda

April 7 at 8:00pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 18 weeks ago

Such great news! Sam, the biking looks like fun and so liberating. Can't believe you're moving home so quickly! You've done amazing work at Spaulding and boy are they going to miss you!

Today’s action photo illustrates that Sam’s longtime skill at catching and throwing balls is actually therapeutic. When you have control of your arms and chest, but not your abdomen and points south, you have to learn how to stack your weight from your shoulders to your hips. Catching and throwing a ball teaches you to deploy your remaining muscle control and range in a way that doesn’t exceed your ability to remain balanced. This has all kinds of practical applications, like reaching for objects without tipping over or dropping them. Sam is learning a new body awareness and skill that builds on his lifelong athleticism!

Posted by Linda

April 4 at 2:31pm

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Now this was an eye-opener: manual wheelchair users get trained on how to get back upright in their chairs, and off the ground back into their chairs, if they fall! It makes sense when you think of all the uneven terrain they encounter. Imagine hitting a pothole or big crack in the pavement with a small front caster on your wheelchair, instead of a big soft car tire! So today's action photo shows Sam beginning to learn how to haul himself forward from a flat-on-his-back position. Afterward he was so tired he almost fell asleep over dinner.

Posted by Linda

April 2 at 11:07am

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An update: Another Friday, another milestone: the abdominal brace (aka The Carapace) came off! Now Sam can bend more as he reaches for important places like his feet. With freedom comes responsibility: more work on torso control for dressing, bathing, etc. Speaking of freedom, today’s action photo shows Sam trying a Free Wheel, which essentially converts a four wheel flat-earth wheelchair into a three wheel ATV. Trusty physical therapist Trina is spotting Sam as he tackles the slopes of the scenic waterfront park right outside Spaulding Charlestown’s front door.

Posted by Linda

March 30 at 2:57pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 19 weeks ago

Very hard work there, Sam! You must be getting strong.

A message from Abby, Steve + Sam: Today’s action photo shows Sam taking his first swim in Spaulding’s pool! The relative freedom of movement is a tonic. But my main topic today is how wonderful Sam’s employer, construction management firm John Moriarty & Associates, has been to us all since that dark day when we had to tell them Sam wouldn’t be coming to work on Monday. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined how kind, generous, solicitous, open minded, and welcoming a company could be to a junior staffer facing a new disability. For us parents it’s been like discovering a long lost branch of the family that enfolds you at first sight. Dozens of visitors, cards, and amazing gifts have flowed to Sam from all parts of JMA and from the subs Sam worked with. Sam is looking forward to getting back to work at JMA in a new role!

Posted by Linda

March 28 at 1:25pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 19 weeks ago

This is just the most heart-warming news. It's a testament to Sam, such a great kid who everyone wants to have around. I bet a Monday morning going back to work will take on new meaning. Go Sam!

Sue McSherry — 20 weeks ago

Way to go Sam!

Caroline Fry — 20 weeks ago

They say it takes a village, Abby. So happy to hear about Sam's employer positive response.

Frances Shedd-Fisher — 20 weeks ago

What an inspiring and heart-warming message from Abby, Steve and Sam!

An update from Abby, Steve + Sam: Last Friday, Sam had a long, thoughtful conversation with Travis Roy, who is welcomed as a celebrity at Spaulding (but doesn’t act like one) about the physical, logistical, and emotional challenges (and rewards) that accompany the transition from free-range athleticism to WC living. Travis’s worthy foundation benefits those with truly acute, basic needs, and research toward cures. Sam has his eye on competing in races to advance Travis’s mission— see the Team Travis page for all the ways we bipeds can compete too: https://www.travisroyfoundation.org/events/teamtrf/ And check out the new action photo of Sam working up a sweat in spin class!

Posted by Linda

March 24 at 6:05pm

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Roula Kappas — 20 weeks ago

So good to see your photos!

Lynn Ware Peek — 21 weeks ago

So great to hear! Sam, you look great - I've been waiting for photos, love to see the smile!

Frances Shedd-Fisher — 21 weeks ago

Great photo! Keep 'em coming! Love to see Sam at work, making progress.

An update from Abby + Steve: "Travis Roy is paying a visit to Sam and others this afternoon! Sam’s Occupational Therapy sessions usually focus on practicing new ways to accomplish things we’ve all taken for granted since we were small, but which are very difficult when the lower two thirds of your body is unfeeling dead weight... showering, dressing, getting into a car, etc. But sometimes OT class reviews something that’s still easy for Sam, like cooking! Our latest photo shows Sam sautéing at a pull-under cooktop like we’re going to install when we remodel his apartment."

Posted by Linda

March 22 at 12:49pm

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Toni Lansbury — 21 weeks ago

You’re probably a better cook than I am. You’re looking great, Sam! Travis Roy is one of my heroes!

A message from Abby & Steve: “Dear All, your encouragement continues to buoy us. This weekend, two college friends and old Pierce/BHS pal Vikram traveled a long way to visit Sam. Monday featured our first family meeting at Spaulding. We feel SO lucky that Sam is being treated by such a crackerjack, tightly coordinated, forward looking team. Our latest action photo shows Sam in a standing frame, which he’ll use daily even after discharge, to maintain bone, muscle, skin and cardio health. And to stare us down if we get too meddlesome.”

Posted by Linda

March 18 at 8:07pm

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A message from Abby & Steve: “From replies to the few thank-yous we’ve been able to write so far, you’re enjoying these updates, so here’s another! Not since he was an infant have we taken so many photos of Sam. Here he is practicing transferring into a mock vehicle. We hope to buy him a car outfitted with hand controls; we can finally stop regretting not teaching him to drive standard transmission. As you can see, he’s also managed to squeeze some shaving time into his busy day!”

Posted by Linda

March 15 at 12:51pm

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Betsy Shure Gross — 22 weeks ago

Hey Sam, Let us know if/when you want to row on the Charles. Gary has information he would be happy to share. BSG

Frances Shedd-Fisher — 22 weeks ago

Sam is a hard working guy! It will certainly pay off.

Frances Shedd-Fisher — 22 weeks ago

Sam is a hard working guy! It will certainly pay off.

A message from Abby & Steve - Yesterday, Spaulding’s physical therapy staff introduced Sam to Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), which zaps the muscles to make them work, even though the brain can’t tell them to. So, Sam’s legs cycled “on their own” for 45 min, maintaining muscle, bone and cardiovascular fitness. Your generosity will allow Sam to afford an FES unit for use at home to help optimize his health post-discharge!

Posted by Linda

March 13 at 10:43pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 21 weeks ago

This is so great, Sam! We recently bought a version of one of those for lengthy plane flights and general muscle soreness. I was wondering about how it would work for you! It's pretty amazing to watch it working your muscles, isn't it?!

Betsy Shure Gross — 22 weeks ago

YEA SAM! Looking forward to seeing those pictures of you rolling around the neighborhood. Let us know when you hit High Street on your way up to Pill Hill. Guts, grace and grit...you've got plenty. Fondly. BSG

from Abby & Steve - Wonderstruck is the best word I can think of to describe how we feel about the outpouring of support you’ve demonstrated here. Sundays can be lonely in a hospital, but thanks to Sam’s good old pals, it flew by with board games and festive foods. We’re feeling the love!

Posted by Linda

March 11 at 12:19am

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Lynn Ware Peek — 21 weeks ago

Nice! Looks like Settlers of Catan? S nice you've got great friends there. Make sure you crush them in Bananagrams!

Hi. Toni Lansbury is organizing dinners for Steve and Abby. You can sign up on this link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0c4ba5ae23a0fd0-abby Continued gratitude and appreciation to each and every one of you. Linda

Posted by Linda

March 9 at 3:30pm

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Marie Green — 23 weeks ago

So wonderful to see that smile!

Dear All—Reading your notes and seeing your names makes us feel so lucky. Old classmates, good neighbors, trusty coworkers, dear friends...what a wonderful web we live in. Sam is acing exercise therapies and spreading good vibes at Spaulding—see pix! Wish we could hug you all, Abby & Steve

Posted by Linda

March 9 at 12:06pm

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  • Betsy Shure Gross5 days ago Sam! What a great photo. I hope that your new digs are putting you in touch with Sidewalk Sam's spirit and that you will enjoy your time in Newton. I challenge you to find the Olmsted Park in the city.....
  • Elie Dunford1 week ago great picture - I bet those bikes are costly, how amazing that he's so fit and daring to be riding that, I so admire his spirit.
  • Alycia Gilde Egan3 weeks ago This is wonderful! What great friends.
  • Gayle Rich3 weeks ago I love that Sidewalk Sam's spirit will be near to Sam on this latest temp housing. It seems more than fitting.
  • Frances Shedd-Fisher3 weeks ago Best wishes, Sam, Ben in your new temporary digs! I will miss seeing you on Walnut Street. Love to all, Frances
  • Betsy Shure Gross3 weeks ago Will we soon see sidewalk chalk pictures in the spirit of Sidewalk Sam posted? I note the gate on the Bishop's property in the photo here...I do miss Walnut Street ! BSG
  • Maura Callahan3 weeks ago Best wishes - keep up The good work
  • Stephen Kuehn4 weeks ago Love the pics. Eddie thinks you’re awesome. So do we. Keep on Truckin’
  • Elie Dunford4 weeks ago WOW look at those muscles pop - Sam you're such an inspiration, you are truly remarkable. Not everyone has such drive and determination and it's truly remarkable to see. Congrats on your new Subaru!!
  • Christine Rossell4 weeks ago Dear Sam, You are an inspiration to me. Sincerely, Christine
  • Show 578 more supporters