:: the story of sam ::

Samantha Michelle Ford is most remembered today for her amazing strength, kind heart, warm smile, and the most contagious laugh you ever heard.

Her story is one of true inspiration.

While growing up, one could find Sam at the local dance studio, The Studio of Performing Arts, nearly every day of the week. It was here that she found her true passions of dancing and performing. Sam also loved spending time with her family on frequent camping trips.

When Sam was in the 8th grade she was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of bone cancer in her right leg. At the tender age of 13, Sam, along with her doctors and family, made the difficult decision to amputate to lessen the risk of the cancer recurring.

Throughout this traumatic time, Sam’s smile never faltered. She persevered with an optimism found only in the movies. Not only did she keep her warm smile, she kept dancing! Sam was back dancing with her prosthetic leg at the dance studio in record time. When she began attending Arroyo Grande High School, she continued to perform and compete with the Studio's Competition Groups, as well as the High School Company Dance Team. She even wore skirts, all the while never losing her smile or sense of humor. Sam's deep belly laugh echoed through the halls and could be heard outside the dance studio. It shook her entire body and one could not help but be completely drawn to her warmth and laughter.

In the fall of 2002, when Sam was a senior in high school, the cancer returned, this time in her lungs. Most would give up or be too devastated to fight. Not Sam. She fought this battle like a trooper, amazing everyone with her strength, determination, and optimism.

Sam continued dancing and became a dance instructor to children. People would come to the dance recitals just to be in the presence of such an inspiring young woman who represented true beauty and grace. Sam had become a legend and small-town hero.

Tragically, in the fall of 2009 Sam was diagnosed with leukemia. She continued to amaze friends and family, never seeming to be in pain or admitting to a struggle. Her beautiful smile never faded.

On May 14, 2010, our community lost an amazing young woman but her laughter and inspiring story will live on in our hearts forever. Her favorite quote, "Why walk through life when you can dance?" will continue to be passed on by all who knew her spirit.

Sam with sister Andrea

In Spring 2011, Sam's friends and family organized the First Annual Remembering Sam Ford fundraising event. Now an annual event, proceeds benefit Remembering Sam Ford dance scholarships, which are presented to deserving students at The Studio of Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande. Proceeds are also donated to The Pablove Foundation, which funds pediatric cancer research and advances in treatment, educates and empowers cancer families, and improves the quality of life for children living with cancer through hospital play, music, and arts programs. Please consider contributing to the Remembering Sam Ford Fund and make an online donation today!

Pictured above:
Life-long friends (L-R): Donica Schmidt, Alicia Matosich, Sam's sister Andrea Ford,
Randyn Spear, Sam Ford, Alea Boult, Sarah Beltran, and Marni Farmer.

A special thanks to our sponsor!