Nine days ago, 17-year-old Sam Berns should have been celebrating with his beloved New England Patriots in their playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts. But instead of making him honorary captain in the game, the Patriots held a moment of silence for Sam, the inspiring young man with progeria (a condition that causes premature and hastened aging) who had died two days earlier.
Said Patriots owner Robert Kraft: “I loved Sam Berns and am richer for having known him. He was a special young man whose inspirational story and positive outlook on life touched my heart.”
Part of Sam Berns’ so-called fame was his role in the HBO documentary Life According to Sam, a film that documented his life with progeria. Progeria affects one in every 4 to 8 million infants; those afflicted with this condition have an average life expectancy of 13 years.
A student of not so many inches but huge stature at Foxborough High School, Sam joined the marching band and played a drum designed especially for him (since he weighed all of 50 pounds). Recently, he even attended the school’s homecoming dance, always keeping his spirits high as well as those of his family and friends.
“Even though I have many obstacles in my life, I don’t want people to feel bad for me,” Sam said in a public appearance last fall.
After Sam’s death, the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand tweeted: “The warrior, Sam Berns passed away today. He was an inspiration to everyone. You will be missed greatly.”
For this reason, young Sam Berns is our Manners Hero of the Week: He refused to be defined by his condition, inspiring others in his too short life to keep moving forward, no matter what.
Every week, Steven Petrow, the author of five etiquette books, and the forthcoming “Mind Your Digital Manners,” chooses a “Manners Hero.”
Send any nominations to [email protected].
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