Roughly 50 people came to celebrate the Super Sam Foundation ribbon cutting on Friday, which was held one day before what was supposed to be Sam Santhuff's 15th birthday.
The foundation was created after Sam passed away in 2014 from rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer typically seen in children. Now, the foundation has opened a building, located at 401 Court St., to help support cancer victims and their families, said Cassie Santhuff, mother of Sam and co-founder of the foundation.
"This is really just a dream and a vision come true, with being able to have a space where families can come and they know that they're understood and they can speak freely," Cassie said, during the ribbon cutting.
The foundation's overall goals are advocacy, awareness, support and research for cancer, Cassie said.
The organization has carried out its mission in many ways such as displaying gold banners in Fulton, in recognition of rhabdomyosarcoma, in September, advocating for more pediatric oncology research in Washington D.C., providing a grant of $100 thousand to Stanford University for cancer research and more.
Within the foundation, the organization also has "Ava's Avengers," a group of youth who are siblings of those affected by cancer. "Ava's Avengers" was started by Ava Santhuff, twin sibling of Sam. This group works together to create "comfort packs" with items such as journals, blankets and stuffed animals for families affected by cancer.
The new building was funded by EquipmentShare and Ameren. Inside the building, there are couches, desks and a room where the foundation can build the "comfort packs" and provide a space for "Ava's Avengers" to meet.
Even before the furniture was put in the building and the rooms were set up, a family came to talk about their struggles, Cassie said.
"They just took the time to sit and just really share what was on their hearts and some struggles that they've been going through and struggles they see their kids going through," Cassie said. "They just didn't know where else to turn and didn't know what could be done to help them. It's an opportunity for them to share in a space where nobody else gets it."
The community has also worked to support the Super Sam Foundation. This month, many local businesses are donating a portion of their proceeds to the foundation, according to the Super Sam Foundation: Fighting Childhood Cancer Facebook page.
"The community has really been so amazing and I don't even think I can put it into words," Cassie said. "We would not be here. If it wasn't for this community holding us up during Sam's fight. And then you know, as the foundation was formed, they stayed with us."
To conclude the ribbon cutting, Cassie prayed for Sam, the community and the organization.
"Lord please give Sam a big hug for us and a high five and be with us here and be with all the kids as they fight very big battles," Cassie said "In your heavenly named, please bless this space and the people who occupy and the people that it represents."