By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, posted 4/26/08
Katie Samson admits she is one of the luckiest people around – after all, who gets to have thousands of people come to their homecoming every year?
Samson, after all, is the namesake for the charity event that has raised approximately $800,000 for spinal cord injury research and short-term care for spinal cord patients. This year’s festival drew the largest field (48 high school teams and many youth teams) ever and featured nearly every ranked boys’ and girls’ team in the Philadelphia area, according to local polls.
For Samson, this event held even greater meaning. For one, her alma mater got to host the event, which for the first time was held at one site.
After the morning games, Samson was introduced at the turf field by her former coach, veteran Radnor mentor Phyllis Kilgour. A presentation was made for $10,000 to the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in the name of the Katie Samson Foundation.
Samson – who now resides in Tucson, Ariz. – said she is amazed by the growth of the event and how the entire Philadelphia lacrosse community has embraced the role of fundraising.
“It’s really overwhelming because I spend a large major of the year not in Philadelphia,” she said. “When I come back it’s overwhelming, emotionally, to see the amount of support. There are so many friends and family members here.”
“Plus, there’s the importance of young people having (more than just) an event to play for. They now can fundraise for the event themselves.”
Samson noted how high school players assist in the fundraising drive by selling Wings tickets and encouraging fans to attend the event.
“Every year it keeps getting bigger and bigger and one team wants to outdo another team for fundraising,” she said. “When have you ever heard of a high school kid wanting to compete to fund raise? That’s tremendous that we can instill that in a young athlete in high school.”
Samson, who became paralyzed from the chest down after a sledding accident in 2000, is happy her family is so involved in lacrosse. One of her brothers, Brian Samson, is the head coach for the Conestoga boys. Another brother, Dave Samson, is an assistant coach for Germantown Academy’s boys.
Katie’s father, Peter Samson, is still coaching the Radnor 8th grade travel team, and her mother, Bannie Ackerman, coaches the Radnor Middle School 8th grade team. Katie, in fact, coached that team herself four years ago and was delighted to see that, now as seniors, that group is undefeated.
“The lacrosse community is really a special community,” Samson said. “Being an athlete and being a lacrosse player prior to my injury and having so many of my family members still involved, it’s great to see it continue to grow.
“I got to coach that one year and it was a great way to reconnect back to lacrosse. I miss it so much, but coming back every year brings me back to it.”