Super Sam's family honors his last wish "to help all the kids"
FULTON - All 6-year-old Sam Santhuff wanted to do was comfort children in the hospital, even though he was there too, fighting his own battle.
Sam's impact is spread throughout the world since his death from cancer. His family carries out his daily wish and prayer, "to help all the kids."
The Super Sam Foundation is known for its "comfort packs."
"When I asked him, 'what made you comfortable, he said his stuffed animals, his soft blankets and his movies," said Sam's mom, Cassie Santhuff. "So we now include all of those items in Comfort Packs."
In a year, the Super Sam Foundation surpassed Sam's wish of sending out 1,000 Comfort Packs. But Sam died before he got to see the first one get sent out.
One of the most important relationships in his life was his sister.
She is making her own mark on the family's efforts to honor his memory.
"Sam's the face of it, but I'm the voice of it," 9-year-old Ava said.
She has started her own foundation, Ava's Avengers" to help young people whose brother or sister battling a disease.
Ava said cancer is a family fight.
"Your brother or sister get most of the attention or sometimes even all of it, so you never really get all of those presents or all of those toys, so sometimes it can feel a little lonelier without your brother or sister," she said.
That's why Ava's Avengers focus on "sibling packs." They are like Comfort Packs and their are different versions for boys and girls.
When Sam was in the hospital, Ava would always have a soft stuffed animal, a journal and pens to keep her busy and, when she was feeling "a little crazy," she always put on her "crazy socks." Sibling packs include those items.
Ava raises the money for her foundation through bake sales and activities at Super Sam events.
"You go for Super Sam Foundation and you stay for Ava's Avengers," she said.
Ava said the effort is bittersweet.
"But the thing that just catches my mind most is that sisters should be able to keep their brothers," she said.
The Santhuff family does not do all of this alone. Everyone involved in the foundation is volunteer.
Nine-year-old Lexi Hux and her family donate their time to create "Blessing Bags" for the moms going through the fight as well, like Ava's sibling packs. They have socks, trail mix and other snacks, some gum, wet wipes, a Super Sam water bottle, tissues, LuLaRoe leggings and pens.
"The Blessing Bags are sent to hospitals statewide and this is their second year doing this," Cassie Santhuff said.
The Santhuff family stayed at a Ronald McDonald house when Sam was going through treatments. Now, they donate their Comfort Packs to The Ronald McDonald House in Columbia, St. Louis, Kansas City and the one they stayed at in Jacksonville, Florida.
Melanie Dixon, Columbia's Ronald McDonald House community relations coordinator said, "This giving organization and family knows what those families are going through and they want to provide comfort too."
The Super Sam Foundation also focuses on research support and advocacy.
Members travel and advocate for more research for childhood cancer. The foundation has funded three grants as well.
Sam's mom shared this story on the foundation's website,
"He asked, 'why do I have cancer?' I replied, 'I don’t know, but we are going to beat it.' He asked 'but not all kids do… why not?' With tears starting, I said 'because the doctors need more money to find the cure, but they are trying super hard.' Sam: 'We can give them my piggy bank, would that be enough?' I explained a little more about government funding and how kids cancer only get 4 percent and how we wanted really badly to make that higher. His answer was simple 'Maybe if we say please.'"
The website says, "Every decision we make is based on three things: would this make Sam proud, would this glorify God and does this help all the kids? And if it does all three, we are probably going to do it."
Families are able to request packs online at The Super Sam Foundation's website. People who want to donate and volunteer can find information on that page as well.