Sam’s Night, formerly Sam’s Family Fun Day, began as a way to help educate others about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (Duchenne MD) and to help raise funds to support the research mission of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), an organization founded almost 20 years ago by families of boys with Duchenne.
Sam Killian is a 14-year-old boy from Rockwall, Texas who is known by friends and family as a very intelligent, funny and dynamic kid. In 2005, he was diagnosed with Duchenne MD, a progressive disease that robs male adolescence of their ability to walk, use their arms and hands, and ultimately causes heart and lung issues that result in an average life span of the early 20s. There are over 150,000 boys around the world affected by the disease and 20,000 in the US alone.
“Advancements in care in the last several years have helped extend [Sam’s] mobility and will help extend his life,” said John Killian, Sam’s father and Director/CFO of Clarion Partners. “Today, there are several clinical trials in process and many reasons to be optimistic about the future for kids with Duchenne.”
Since the year of his diagnosis, Sam’s Day has raised over $1 million, all of which have aided in funding a cure to end Duchenne. Willmeng was honored to attend and sponsor Sam’s Night on Oct. 6. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Roger Staubach, was the special guest!
“Willmeng attends many fundraisers throughout the years as part our commitment to impact the community, but to say that this event was “different” would be an understatement,” said Willmeng President and CEO, James Murphy. “What made the event truly special was the mix of family and community in attendance. The Killian family is so open and courageous.”
Murphy said that it was a pleasure to meet Sam and notes the breathtaking moment when he saw Sam catch a football thrown to him by Staubach at the event.
“Sam snatched the ball out of the air just like Larry Fitzgerald. What else would you expect from Sam?!” said Murphy.
A few weeks later, Willmeng was also delighted to participate in a fundraiser in support of John Killian running in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 11 in benefit of PPMD. It was Killian’s ninth New York City Marathon and 20th marathon overall racing for PPMD.
“Medical research is a lot like running a marathon – it takes a lot of time and effort, and you never really know if you are going to reach your goal until you cross the finish line,” said Killian, who credits donor support for the critical advances in research. “Marathon training reminds me daily of why I started running in the first place – with the hopes of keeping Sam on his feet and winning the battle against Duchenne MD.”
Willmeng offers a sincere congratulations to John and Sam Killian’s team on a great showing at the race! Make an online donation to PPMD here or send a check made out to PPMD to:
953 Stevens Rd.
Rockwall, TX., 75032
Photos courtesy of MarathonFoto & John Killian