Saturday, September 4, 2010

It's Been a While

Wow! It is already September and I haven't posted for quite a while.  The last time was when Sam had an infection and we were back on antibiotics and hospital watch.  Well, so much has happened since then, but most of it has been good, in fact, I haven't had time to blog!!!!!

While Sammy was in the hospital getting treatment for the infection, the amazing community of the Pelham School District (where we teach and the boys go to school) galvanized for a major fundraising to help us.  Hundreds of Superman Sammy T. shirts were sold across the district, designed by our art teacher, Devon.  Each school raised funds this way and then Pelham was, for about a week, a sea of orange "Sammy" shirts.  Our own school Prospect Hill, has an annual dance festival led by the music teacher Eric.  This year, Eric allowed the festival to be a time when all Prospect children wore the Sammy shirts as they danced.  Many parents were also sporting the orange attire and many shirts were sold on the day itself.  All the money went to the Danny Fund, a fund to help families with all the costs associated with serious illnesses.  This money has been earmarked for Sammy, a huge financial help to us! 

I can honestly say, a movie could have been made of the day.  Sammy was in hospital for this momentous occasion, and CBS News and News 12 had got wind of the event and were coming down to film it and interview Sam!!!  The organizers of the fundraising, my dear friends Karen, Adele, Kate and Deirdre had created an amazing celebration, the dances were ready, the cameras were set to roll, the Manos Family were there for support, the Danny Fund attended to both heighten awareness of the fund and support Sammy, Sammy. 

Now, Brian and I are not people who would EVER put our child at risk, but we knew Sammy was only in hospital due to the need to give the antibiotics, so we asked that he be given a day release to attend the festival.  We had nurses calling favors in from Dr. Cole, we had Jeremy, the CHAM 9 doctor work his magic, and about half an hour later than the scheduled start of the dance festival, Sammy arrived with Poppa, Nana and Lulu.  He changed out of his PJ's in the car (remember he had just come straight from the hospital).  Then Peter, almost 5 years clear of leukemia himself, took the hands of both Sammy and Jack and the three walked along the pavement to the front of the audience to cheers and applauding (and some tears) of the entire school community. 

Sammy, Peter, myself and several others were interviewed for CBS news and Sammy had a special seat to watch all the wonderful dances performed by each grade. Jack was amazing doing his second grade cute!   Deborah K was the official photographer and I will add some of her beautiful pictures of the event once I get round to letting her know which ones I want.  Sammy, himself was so articulate and confident when speaking with Cindy Hsu, the reporter, and impressed everyone with his strength and openness about having cancer.  The neuropathy pain only kicked in at the end of the festival and only a few people  in the office heard the sreams of pain from my little superhero. 

At the end of the day, Sammy left for the hospital once more, his day pass expired, but his spirits truly lifted...his recovery actually sped up after this.  Sammy had been presented with special oversized checks from the fundraiser, made out to the Danny Fund and one made out to him from some very special fifth grade girls who had held a lemonade and cookie sale in the colder weather and raised a very substantial amount for us.  In addition, the company who printed the shirts, and who donated a percentage of the profits to the Danny Fund, also presented Sam with his own special Super Sammy logoed sweatshirt!  To top it off, Sammy's orange shirt had a special addition to the back of it: "Sammy SuperSpongebob Star".

Superman Sammy was featured on CBS over several days.  The nurses, doctors and staff at Montefiore were clamoring for the shirts (we gave those away to thank them for all they do), and apparently, the nurses on CHAM 9 all had a SuperSammy shirt day and everyone wore them just as an emergency drill was carried Sammy shirts flying around the hospital must have been quite a sight to see :) 

People all over Pelham were spotted in orange, and I was even stopped in Eastchester and asked if I went to Pelham schools...I was wearing the Sammy shirt and it was recognised!  I told them I was Sammy's mom and they were so happy to have seen how well he was doing on T.V. 

So this is the first of many great things I need to share lately.  As I said before, it is already September, Sammy is actually having a very bad steroid day today, but maintenance is so much better than the other stages of treatment.  I will try to cover the past couple of months as they have been so great. I will say, my Sammy has started to grown his hair...eyebrows and all!  He is more mobile most days, and he regularly fights with Jack!  Sammy is back :) 

The Pelham Weekly Article:

Prospect Hill School’s annual dance festival and party on June 16 was dedicated to sixyear- old kindergartner Sammy Zweig, who was diagnosed with leukemia nine months ago. Walking slowly across the school playground, he waved like a royal prince to a sea of cheering Prospect Hill students, all wearing orange “Super Sammy” T-shirts. Students at other elementary schools in Pelham wore similar T-shirts that day.

“We are beyond humbled by the support we have had from our Pelham family,” said Sammy’s mother, Catherine Zweig, who like her husband Brian has been a teacher at Prospect Hill for more than ten years.

Among the supporters was a former Prospect Hill student, 17-year-old Peter Manos, who is in his fifth year of remission from the same type of leukemia Sammy has. “Peter has been the mentor, the support guy, the one who is there when Sammy won’t take his medicine,” said Karen Cirillo, one of a group of Prospect Hill teachers organizing support and fund-raising efforts for the Zweigs. The other teachers working on fundraisers were Deirdre Stein, Adele Reynolds and Kate Alix. Mrs. Cirillo said the sale of “Super Sammy” T-shirts and bracelets raised more than $15,000 for the Danny Fund, a local charity that will use the money to help Sammy and his family. In addition, Ink It Up, a Larchmont custom screening and embroidery company that produced the T-shirts, donated five percent of its profits to the Danny Fund. Also contributing to the Zweigs were a group of fifth grade girls who presented them with $1,200 from bake sales.

Around the community, support also came from teachers Joshua Stein and Dan Friel at Pelham Middle School, Ginamarie Ruffolo and Melissa Magiet at Hutchinson, Tonya Wilson at Colonial, and Linda Carlson, Alyssha Miro, and school nurse Joan Walder at Siwanoy.
Mrs. Zweig thanked the students in the Prospect Hill fifth grade she taught this year.

“They have a magic,” she said, “that kept me sane.”

Note: The Danny Fund will host its 2010 fundraiser on Oct. 2 to raise funds for the Zweig family as well as other current Danny Fund families.

—Bob Payne


  1. KAty, aside from everything else, you are also amazing writer (your students are surely lucky)! So glad that Sam is well and you are happy!

  2. Hi!I have commented on your blog before,we met in CHAM 3, and I have a 3 year old daughter diagnosed with leukemia(pre B-cell)5 months ago.I haven't seen you in a while(maybe because I go on Tues. and Wed. mornings)But I always ask the nurses how's Sam doing since you haven't blog in a while.I'm very happy to know that he's doing well,that you're happy and that your old Sam is back! God bless him and your family.


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