• Amy Kimball Engar

Meet Samuel Eliason, Super Hero

Samuel Eliason, or more commonly referred to as Sam or Sam-O, is a superhero against all odds. Sam was born a beautiful brown eyed child, with the biggest smile around town. As his Father held him in his arms for the first time, he was spellbound and taken aback explaining, “It was like looking through a window into heaven,” in Sam’s eyes. In that very moment, they knew that Sam would be the greatest teacher of love to their family. A few months later, Sam would be pronounced dead on site, in a fatal drowning accident. Any moment with Sam beyond that night would be considered a miracle and a blessing. A few days later, Sam was removed from a breathing machine, where he was able to breathe independently. The following weeks became very long, unpredictable, and dark for Sam and his family. Sam’s accident had impacted all of his motor skills, leaving him in a state similar to severe cerebral palsy.

Early on, at the age of 1, Sam was referred to a Speech Therapist, where he was introduced to music therapy. “Can’t Touch This,” by MC Hammer, brought Sam to life, as he bounced his head up and down to the beat. Music not only gave his family hope, but today, Sam loves and lives for his music playlists at work. Sam has defied all odds, and has excellent super strength in his upper body and torso. Sam does crawling exercises, and practices his fine motor skills through typing, coloring, and learning to steady his movement and coordination. Sam has spent the last few years, really discovering who he is, and expressing his needs and opinions. He also most dearly loves his video games, and electronics. Sam is able to create his own slideshows entirely on his own, and put subtitles and music to the videos that he uses to present in his Toastmaster speeches.

Sam also printed out shipping labels online for the Camera Coats Company, and continues to work hard in packaging batting, vacuuming the rugs and mopping the floors. While working with Sam during my first year at TURN, I wondered what exactly Sam could do for means of employment. My understanding now of Sam is that there is nothing that he can’t do, if he sets his mind to it.

Sam is also a great caregiver. If Sam sees another person struggling or in need of help, he is quick to offer his assistance. Sam graduated High School as a member of the Honor Roll, a classroom clown and big time jokester, and was a well-loved person among his peers. Today he still is well-loved among his peers and co-workers in the Day Programs and Work Programs at TURN. Sam served an LDS Service Mission, at the Bishop’s Store House for 2 years. Sam also loves to swim with the help of a life jacket. Water, a place that could be viewed so negatively, is a place of enlightenment and joy for Sam. In the water he kicks and feels unrestricted by the lack of movement and control of his lower extremities.

Sam is the 6th of 7 children, and is close to all of his brothers and sisters, but has a tender bond with his youngest siblings, Tracy Jr. and Aaron. Sam still struggles with communication, but uses his electronics to communicate his needs when he cannot be easily understood. Sam is also referred to as, “Uncle Sam,” to 9 nephews, and 7 nieces, which he loves dearly. While they are young, he takes them for rides on his lap, in his power wheelchair. Sam is the kind of person that can take the sourest lemon given to him, and turn it into marvelous lemonade. Like most superheroes, Sam has the sharpest of minds, and the biggest of hearts. Throughout Sam’s life, both he and his family have been blessed by the love of many people around them. However, many people will also say it is blessing to experience the love that comes from knowing Sam.

#awesomeness #SupportedEmployment #Participants #Disabilities #TURN