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Just For Kids    |    for Kids Only

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published on 10/27/2007

Blind Cancer Survivor Samantha Gilley To Begin "Sam's Ride"


Rep. Zach Wamp will help 18-year old blind cancer survivor Samantha Gilley kickoff her 370-mile bike ride from Chattanooga to Memphis. The ride is a fundraiser to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, the hospital that saved her life.

Note a schedule change from the original release:
* Zach Wamp will arrive about 10:30-10:45 a.m.
* Rep. Wamp will ring the gong on the CDM plaza to begin the ride at 11 a.m.

Samantha Gilley started volunteering at Creative Discovery Museum after she lost her sight to cancer, but that didn't stop her from reading aloud to children in the Museum's Little Yellow House. She read to them from her braille books.

Now 18 years old, Samantha has been successfully fighting cancer since she was six months old. Later this month she will come to the Museum to begin "Sam's Ride," a 370-mile bike ride from Chattanooga to Memphis, as a fundraiser to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, the hospital that saved her life.

"Sam has never met a challenge she has not overcome," said Dr. Jayne Griffin, Director of Education for Creative Discovery Museum. "She's ridden horses and bicycles, she's snow skied. Sam is very persistent, determined, and she has a huge heart, as evidenced by fact she wants to give back to St. Jude."

Samantha first participated in Club Discovery, an inclusive after school program, then she came back to the Museum as a teen volunteer and a junior leader in the Museum Apprentice Program.

"Sam is a bright young woman who happens to be blind. It's all about what she can do and not what she can't do. She's the epitome of what we're talking about with Kids Like You, Kids Like Me," said Griffin. The exhibit's theme is that kids with disabilities do the same things as other children, they just do them a little differently.

Riding a tandem bike donated by the Chattanooga Bike Club, Samantha will be joined by a series of sighted co-pilots who will each ride a single day with her. Samantha will be the only one making the entire 370-mile journey which will take her from Chattanooga, along Highway 41, across Monteagle Mountain to Nashville and then on to Memphis.

On Oct. 15, Samantha will make the official announcement of Sam's Ride. From 11:30 a.m. to12:30 p.m., she will speak to a group of third graders from Summerville Elementary visiting the Kids Like You, Kids Like Me exhibit. At 12:30 p.m. she will move to the Museum's Plaza for a press availability.

On. Oct. 27, Sam's Ride will begin from the Museum's Plaza. Samantha will receive "get well" cards for children at St. Jude's that have been made by Museum visitors. Then children from the Museum will give her a loud send off with hand made noisemakers.

A web site has been set up with more information and extensive biography at www.samsride.org. Donations can be made through the web site by Pay-Pal or by sending a check to: Samsride.org, c/o Capital Bank, PO Box 2146, Fort Oglethorpe, GA 30742.

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