This dying teen’s wish was to play in his high school drumline


Remembering Sam Gordon Berns

5315690e45e50.imageSam was like most teens. He had friends, loved to hang out, and was in boy scouts. But unlike his peers, Sam Berns was slowly dying from progeria, an extremely rare genetic disorder where victims experience symptoms resembling premature aging.

Only 350 children worldwide suffer from progeria, and most who suffer from it don’t live past age 13, but Sam never let his condition dull his outlook on life. He was contagiously upbeat and determined to experience everything he could in life, including playing percussion in his high school’s marching band.

After wetting his appetite for performance in Foxboro’s High School’s front ensemble, Sam yearned for more and expressed to his band director his desire march in the drumline.

At only 50 pounds, Sam’s weakened frame couldn’t support a typical marching snare drum and harness, but he didn’t let that stop him. Sam and his parents enlisted the help of an engineer who designed a custom harness for him to wear, giving Sam the chance to perform with his high school’s drumline before he died last year at the age of 17.

We remember Sam today because Friday, April 17 is Hats ON for Progeria Day, and we can’t help but tip our cap to Sam for inspiring performers everywhere to never forget how precious the gift of performance is.

His story is inspiring, and it’s one worth sharing. We want you to listen to Sam’s story and philosophy in his own words. Below is a recording of a TED talk Sam gave on his philosophy for a happy life.

What did you think of Sam TED talk? Let us know in the comments section below.

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