Benefit Supports Local

ST. MARYS — There will be a benefit celebrating the successful heart transplant of a Memorial High School grad this summer.

The Heart Felt Benefit for Elizabeth Sampson, 20, will take place on Aug. 24 at the Howard Johnson Hotel, 1920 Roschman Ave., Lima. The benefit will begin at 5:30 p.m. with hor d’oeuvres, and dinner will follow at 6 p.m. The evening will feature an auction, music, a raffle, and more. Donations are being accepted at Minster Bank in St. Marys, and the money will go toward the Sampson family’s medical bills.

Sampson, 20, was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), when she was a senior at Memorial High School three years ago. HCM occurs when the heart muscle is “hypertrophied,” or thickened, for no obvious reason.

HCM often presents itself in more serious forms in younger children, and Elizabeth’s diagnosis was random and a miracle, her sister, Amanda Sampson, said.

“In our family we call my little cousin Jenny, Elizabeth’s little angel for a variety of reasons,” she wrote on Elizabeth’s blog.

“Four years ago, Jenny collapsed in gym class, and she was rushed to the hospital. We found out later this was caused by a genetic heart condition. Jenny’s tragic experience was truly a blessing in disguise. Because of Jenny’s experience, the doctors were able to narrow down and find the specific gene for HCM, which is passed down by genes in our family.”

Thanks to this discovery, the rest of the family was checked for the HCM gene, and Elizabeth tested positive. She had a pacemaker and a defibrillator installed, and the family prayed that things would work out.

Four months ago, doctors informed her and her family that she needed a heart transplant. She was on the transplant list for approximately four months when the family received news that Elizabeth would be receiving a heart.

Her surgery, which took place on April 12, went wonderfully, her mother, Kathy Sampson said.

“I feel great, and I am just getting stronger every day,” Elizabeth Sampson said.

“And I’m just overwhelmed with the gift of life that I’ve been given.”

Elizabeth will spend the rest of the summer recovering from surgery before continuing as a junior at Bowling Green State University.

She is looking forward to that day, and through the whole ordeal has been grateful to the people around her for their support, and trusting with her unwavering faith in God to get her through.

“It was really, really wonderful when I was in the hospital to hear from people every single day, just encouraging me and praying for me,” she said.

The flyer for the benefit features a picture of Elizabeth holding a guitar, and emphasizes that her favorite music will be one of the main focuses for the night.

When Elizabeth was first diagnosed with HCM, doctors told her she could no longer play sports.

At the time, she was the captain of the varsity volleyball team, so this news drastically changed her life.

Elizabeth immediately began channeling her energy into the school’s music scene, trying out for the school musical, joining choir, and playing guitar and singing around town.

However, when asked if music is what got her through, her response was, “Well, I think that the Lord was how I got through it … (but) music has definitely been a part of recovering,” she said. “At the benefit, it will be fun to hear music ... And just have the people there supporting me.”

She might even be compelled to play a few songs. After her surgery, she was not able to play guitar or sing for a while, but being able to pick them up again now that she is recovering is nice, she said.

Several of the family’s close friends, including Ron Gorby, took charge of organizing the benefit.

“I’m so overwhelmed and grateful for all the friends and the family members and their generosity that they have extended to our family, and their prayers,” Kathy Sampson said.

“We’re so thankful to each and every one of them ... God is good. His greatness is overwhelming.”

For ticket information call committee members Ron and Kathy Gorby at 419-733-2432, or purchase tickets at Minster Bank in St. Marys or the St. Marys Chamber of Commerce.

To make reservations at the Howard Johnson Hotel, call 419-222-0004 or 1-877-360-8779.