Sam Berns

Sam Berns was born on October 23, 1996. By the time he was 2, Sam was diagnosed with Progeria, an extremely rare genetic disorder in childhood characterized by dramatic, premature aging. Statistics show that the condition, which derives its name from the Greek word "geras," meaning old age, is estimated to affect one in four million newborns with approximately 350 young individuals currently suffering from Progeria worldwide. 

Despite his illness, Sam Berns never allowed Progeria to keep him from enjoying life and pressing ahead to achieve his goals.

As a percussionist in the high school band, Sam was passionate about participating in the marching band. His small stature, the fact that he only weighed about 50lbs, unfortunately kept him on the sidelines, playing in the percussion pit rather than carrying a drum that weighed almost as much as him. Although he loved playing in the pit, Sam's dream was to actually march with the band. His solution? He and his family worked with an engineer to create a snare drum carrier that would allow him to march with a smaller, lighter drum. Dream fulfilled!

Sam Berns was a fighter. Rather than give up on his dreams, Sam found new ways to tackle the obstacles he faced and focused on the things he could do.

Here are Sam's four keys to success — his philosophy for a happy life — which he shared with the world back in October 2013.

  • Be OK with what you ultimately can't do, because there is so much you CAN do.
  • Surround yourself with people you want to be around.
  • Keep moving forward.
  • Never miss a party if you can help it.

Sam Berns

While attending Foxboro High School in Foxboro, Massachusetts, Sam Berns achieved high honors and was the percussion section leader in the high school marching band. He receieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America and is featured in the HBO documentary, Life According to Sam, which was first screened in January 2013.

Watch Sam Berns talk about his philosophy of life in this TEDx Talks video entitled "My Philosophy for a Happy Life" (see below).

This extraordinary and inspirational young man lost his life on January 10, 2014, just months after his appearance at the TEDx Mid-Atlantic Conference; he was 17.

Rest in peace, Sam... and thank you for your gift.