Helping families in need a dream come true for Sam’s Wish founders

Guests enjoy dinner at the Sam’s Wish fundraiser. (Photo by Audrey Bailey)

Guests enjoy dinner at the Sam’s Wish fundraiser. (Photo by Audrey Bailey)

By Audrey Bailey

For Heather Stephenson and her family, every day is an opportunity to help make the world a better place.

That’s the goal for Stephenson’s new not-for-profit organization, Sam’s Wish, started in 2014 and inspired by her younger brother, Sam McNew, a longtime Special Olympics athlete.

“Our mission is to help people in their time of need and to help people with disabilities to live happier, healthier lives,” said Stephenson, a Carmel resident.

The nonprofit hopes to do that in tangible ways, such as funding adapted equipment for families in need, offering classes for adults with disabilities and launching a parents night or day out for parents of children with disabilities.

To promote the vision behind Sam’s Wish, Stephenson, her husband Derek, along with friends and family, organized the “Evening in the Barn with the Jeremy Vogt Band” fundraiser last month.

The event took place inside Stephenson’s sister and brother-in-law’s barn and featured live music, comfort food, games, a silent auction and festive pies to conclude the evening. A video was also shown profiling Sam, his wish and Stephenson’s ambition to make that wish come true.

“From volunteering for the Special Olympics for 20 years, I knew there were so many needs for people with disabilities that were not getting met,” Stephenson said.

According to Stephenson, getting the organization up and running was not easy. From raising money and creating a website to becoming a tax-exempt organization, making Sam’s Wish a reality took time and support.

Stephenson’s family has been there every step of the way to help, whether that be through donations or assisting with events.

“I’m just very thankful of the support from all of our family, everybody wants to step in and help as much as they can,” Suzanne McMahon, Stephenson’s sister, said.

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