Testimonials

“I first met Sam not long after the family had received the diagnosis. He was a very happy and normally developing baby. I don’t think we can under estimate the impact of chemotherapy and regular anaesthetics on a young child’s development. When he was 3, Lisa said to me “I don’t think he will ever talk.”

Stress on the family and the effects of treatment slowed his development, but this was to prove to have only a short term effect on Sam.

I felt, strange as it may seem, that his development went ahead once both eyes were removed. There were no more trips to the hospital, and the uncertainty was removed. By the time he was six, I think Lisa wished he didn’t talk so much!
Now there was less stress on the family, and on him, he could start to get on with his life.

It was a privilege for me to play a small part in those early years of Sam’s development, and to be supporting Sam, Lisa and Jim alongside our orientation and mobility specialist, Marg Harvey and counsellor, Janet Cronin, through this very difficult time for this brave family.”

Judy Reese
Early Childhood Specialist Teacher
Victorian Client Services
Vision Australia


“I first met Sam when he was enrolled in prep at the Vision Australia School. Sam was always inquisitive, wanting to know how everything worked and if it didn’t, why not? His enthusiasm to learn, play and understand his environment kept many people ‘on their toes’ often challenging us to provide Sam with opportunities to learn while still being safe! Sam loved to climb, run, hide, play ball games and always strived to be the Winner!

Sam has an amazing sense of ‘himself’ when moving in both known and new environments. He is able to hear/sense cars from a great distance when waiting to cross a road. Sam uses a long cane when moving in the wider community, allowing him to move safely and independently (in those areas he has completed orientation). As Sam grows in confidence, knowledge and understanding of his community he will have the same opportunities as his siblings and peers.

Sam has a particular love of trains and I have no doubt that one day you may be travelling on the train with Sam as he is independently commuting to work, recreational activities or just to meet up with friends.

It has been a privilege to work with Sam, he has taught me many things about “having a go”, motivation and the tenacity to always keep trying even if you don’t succeed at first. Sam’s vision impairment has not defined him nor has it deterred his drive for independence. Sam wants to have the same opportunities as his friends and to do what the other kids are doing.
Sam is fortunate to have a great, supportive and loving family. They back Sam all the way as he strives to be independent, active and happy in his life.”

Gail Stinchcombe
Instructor
Orientation & Mobility
Vision Australia


“Sam’s genuine love of learning and desire to learn all about the world around him make him a pleasure to teach! He has a real drive for independence and a determination to take part in every aspect of school life. Sam’s tenacity and perseverance to be independent has made him ‘just one of the class’.”

Melissa Bowyer
Visiting Teacher
Statewide Vision Resource Centre


“I have watched Samuel grow and develop from infancy when he was diagnosed with Rb, to the impressive young man he is today – despite all the challenges that life has thrown his way so far.

He has an extraordinary knowledge of the world and maturity beyond his years. He proves to me that life is what you make of it. We have a lot to learn from the resilience of children like Samuel.

The journey Samuel has taken along with his family is indeed heart-warming and inspirational.”

Sandra E. Staffieri
Retinoblastoma Care Co-ordinator
Royal Children’s Hospital


“From our first contact I knew you were a family with strength! You didn’t ask ‘why us?’ You asked, ‘what can we do to help?’ It was always a laugh at EUA’s to see Sam running around with five Hospital Bands pinned to his back with a nappy pin! He is a fighter, a trait that can only be inherited from his parents. Lisa and Jim, you are a true inspiration for families encountering tough times, your generosity and enthusiasm to ensure families like ours take an easier path than what we experienced is a special gift. When thrown in at the deep end you can sink or swim! Thankfully we chose to swim and more importantly to teach to swim! Keep doing what you are doing, Sam is an awesome, tough, funny kid and is a credit to you! Much love the Faust Family.”

Ainsley Faust
President and Founder
Beyond Sight Auxiliary RCH


“Every single person Sam comes into contact with falls in love with him and is enthralled by his wonderful zest for life. The first moment I met Sam, he took my hand and said, ‘Come on, I want to give you a tour of the Starlight Express Room.’ He led me past every wall and every object, explaining it all in detail as if he could see it with his very own eyes. Now I understand how he could see it; through the eyes of his incredible imagination. I encourage you to seize this very moment and see life through Sam’s eyes. His story will undoubtedly make you reflect on your own life and make you realise that life doesn’t stop just because you can’t see it.”

Jessie Oliver
Family Relationship Coordinator
Starlight Children’s Foundation


“It was January 2014 that I received a call from the Camp Quality office in regards to Companion/Camper match-ups for Middle Camp, a five-day camp for boys and girls aged between ten and twelve later in the month. The main reason for this particular call was to find out if I would be comfortable to look after a little fella who was blind. I had only been on board with Camp quality since September 2013 and, being 60, I guess it was more a courtesy call to gauge how I would feel towards the match-up. My first reaction was, well, it’s not about me it’s about the camper. Plus, I felt kind of proud that Camp Quality would entrust me to a boy with such special needs. That camp was where my (short, so far) journey with Sam and his family began.

Boy, was I in for the surprise of my life when first perceptions were always going to be on the cautious side, as to not want Sam to injure himself, but at the same time not want him to miss out on participating in all activities with all the other kids. Mum had packed a cane for Sam to use on camp but she may as well have packed a used bottle top because no way was that cane coming out of his bag. I stood back in total amazement throughout that camp and admired the way Sam threw himself into every challenge that was put in front of him. His willingness and ability to participate and mix with everybody on camp, Volunteers included, had to be seen to be believed. He had no disability at all – as a matter of fact in most cases he showed the way to others, proving that you can pick yourself up dust yourself off and just get on with it.

I had Sam again on the 2015 Middle Camp and nothing has changed. Sam pushes himself to the limit and is a great example of how to get the best out of himself in any situation he confronts. Sam is a normal 13-year-old boy who tests all boundaries, and sometimes crosses a few, in his enthusiasm to get things done. When needed to be reminded of those boundaries he is willing to listen and accept where he may have gone wrong. My Camp Quality journey is a short one so far but one that has been much more rewarding knowing Sam. He comes from an amazing family and I am proud to call Jim, Lisa, Sam, Mitchell and Caitlin my friends. Sam, I wish you luck in everything you pursue in life, but somehow I get the feeling you are going to make your own luck, and thank you for being part of my life… I am extremely proud of you.”

Sam “Ian” Grant
Volunteer
Camp Quality


“As an audio book narrator, my job is to create theatre of mind, to use the medium of sound to create a world of wonder and excitement. When you are ten years old and sound is the only form of theatre available to you, your mind becomes a boundless stage, hungry for every possible form of theatrical explosion you can throw at it. So I guess it was inevitable that Sam would find me and that one day, we would eventually meet. That day came about when his Mum Lisa contacted me and told me Sam’s story. A story that immediately resonated. A story of courage, determination and a compelling desire to live life full of joy and happiness – traits rare in anyone so young, but particularly unique in a kid who had already faced such monstrous hurdles. You can’t help but be inspired by Sam. He and I are kindred spirits, unlikely buddies that share a love of the absurd and a desire to make people laugh. I hope Sam will always be a part of my life. I look forward to following his journey into adulthood and one day, I will be watching him accept some award, or make some speech or solve some global problem, I will sit back proudly and say, ‘Yep, I knew him when he was a kid.’”

Stig Wemyss
Audio Book Narrator, Writer, Director, Producer
Mezzanine Productions


“Jim and Lisa’s story will emotionally move you, inspire you and ignite your passion for living life to the fullest!

It’s a story that makes you grateful for all that you have and teaches us about courage and what it takes to be successful.”

Darren J Stephens
#1 International Bestselling & Author of
Millionaire & Billionaires – Secrets Revealed

 

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