Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/5/22 – From Press Release
Katie Samson, the inspiration of The Katie Samson Foundation (KSF) Lacrosse Festival, has announced through a press release that the foundation has been retired.
The KSF Lacrosse Festival, held from 2001-19 (2020/21 not held due to COVID safety concerns), raised an incredible $2 million over its two decades, supporting two critical causes: medical research and quality of life programs for people living with spinal cord competitions.
Founder Katie Samson – a graduate of Radnor High – sustained a life-changing spinal cord injury in 2000 while a standout player at Middlebury College. A community fundraising event with nonprofit Help Hope Live to assist with Katie’s medical expenses grew and flourished into a festival with national reach and the capacity to change lives, inspire players, and sustain multiple nonprofit missions.
The festival celebrated competition, sportsmanship, and the spirit of lacrosse….and introduced high school students to the concept that athletics is more than wins and losses.
Below is the letter by Katie Samson.
Dear friends of the Katie Samson Foundation (KSF) Lacrosse Festival,
It is remarkable to think that the last time we held the KSF Lax Fest was on April 27, 2019, at Radnor High School (Radnor, PA). So much has changed since that joyful spring day.
The lacrosse festival was the largest high school lacrosse event in the United States, spanning two decades in multiple locations; the community raised over $2 million dollars to support medical research and quality of life programs for people with spinal cord injuries. The festival celebrated competition, sportsmanship, and the spirit of lacrosse in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The event showcased adaptive sports in the region and introduced high school students to the concept that athletics is more than wins and losses.
Community volunteer events rarely last 20 years. This longevity is a testament to the loyal volunteer leadership- who tirelessly and repeatedly gave their time and heart to make sure the event was a success, as well as every team volunteer, adult, and youth, who pounded the pavement for funds.
We have been fortunate to have the support and consistency of an incredible network over the years. After thoughtful contemplation, my family and I have decided that the KSF Lacrosse Festival has come to an end.
We have been contemplating this decision for over two years. There were many reasons pointing toward the decision: the loss of my father, Peter Samson, in August 2019; the COVID-19 pandemic; the transition of committee members; the infrastructure and accessibility project at Radnor High School (which I championed every step); and saddling fundraising on teens during an unprecedented, tumultuous time in their lives. But the reality is: it is time.
It has been an amazing journey. There are not enough words to express the love and gratitude we have for all who have participated in small or big ways over the years.
The festival started with bake sales and ended with mechanical bulls. We signed autographs with Villanova’s Jay Wright and his basketball players, and we danced with the Phillies’ Phanatic. Lacrosse teams came from Canada. We hosted a Division I game and fueled great local rivalries. Former players have gone on to become elite college players, professional athletes, coaches, doctors, and parents.
The Festival became a model for youth-activated fundraisers, and grew beyond raising funds for my immediate needs to support other families impacted by spinal cord injury through local and national nonprofits: https://www.katiesamsonlaxfest.com/the-cause. There are stories upon stories of the festival and its ripples.
Our family, the KSF Board, and the Festival Event Committee hope the players, coaches, and referees feel pride in their participation. We thank the wheelchair athletes for sharing their passion with the community. We have immense gratitude to Radnor township administrators, buildings and operations crew, and all the hardworking school leaders who helped make the festival such a success. We also remember the important friends of KSF we have lost: Cindy Ritz, St. George Hunt, Pete Henkel, Peter Samson, and Fran Auch, and many others near and far.
As we close this chapter, we invite our community to visit the KSF Lacrosse Festival Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/KSFLaxFest) and post your favorite memory and/or post a picture of you in your KSF T-shirt on Instagram with the hashtag #KSFLAXFEST.
When the lacrosse fields at Radnor High School reopen there will be a celebration and I will surely be there.
Katie Samson and the Samson Family