Sam LiBassi, treasured member of the Imerman Angels community, lost his battle with Ewing’s sarcoma on October 24th, 2013. Sam’s journey with Imerman Angels began shortly after he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in February of 2011. Imerman Angels founder Jonny Imerman became aware of Sam through a mutual friend. When the two finally met, the relationship between them was organic. It didn’t take long for Sam to get involved with Imerman Angels, speaking at a fundraiser at Navy Pier and even appearing on ABC 7’s Windy City Live.
Sam was the second of four children, born in Cleveland Ohio. He was homeschooled throughout high school and went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After graduating, he was hired as a mechanical engineer at Parker Hannif in Lincolnshire, IL. He was deeply involved in youth leadership and regularly attended Lake County Baptist Church in Waukegan. In August of 2013, he married the love of his life, Bettie, in Lincoln Park, Chicago.
Those that knew Sam say that he excelled at everything he did, and also incorporated his faith into every part of his life. One thing that stood out about Sam was his attitude; even when Sam was in pain, he maintained his faith in God and exerted an infectiously positive attitude. Along with his attitude came a naturally curious personality. Anything that Sam learned about, he wanted to know more about and was always fascinated by even the simplest things. He also loved to cook, read, and show off the city of Chicago to his friends.
Upon joining Imerman Angels, Sam was paired with a Mentor Angel named Vince who was an Ewing’s sarcoma survivor. Vince provided Sam with a great amount of support throughout his battle. Vince and Sam’s relationship helped to comfort Sam and helped him to retain his positive attitude amidst his illness. Being able to communicate with somebody who had also battled Ewing’s sarcoma allowed Sam to know what was to come, as well as to know that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
Sam, who loved running, had just signed up for the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon days before his diagnosis. Though he wasn’t able to run the 2011 marathon, Sam remained determined to run and train again. Sam went into remission in November of 2011, and signed himself up for the 2012 Chicago Marathon. In September of 2012, only a month before the race, Sam relapsed. However, he was diligent about participating in the marathon with Team Imerman Angels. Though he wasn’t able to fully compete, he ran eight miles and was still able to cross the finish line and receive a medal.
Sam planned to run another marathon as soon as he was better. Although Sam passed away before he was able to do so, his sister, Elizabeth, and several of their close friends plan to run the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in his memory alongside Team Imerman Angels. Team Imerman Angels currently has over 230 members that actively participate in various sports and events around the city in order to gain awareness for their mission of providing personalized connections that enable 1-on-1 support among cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers.
Any Sport, Any Race, Anywhere!
$150,000 in funds raised as 90 members of Team IA cross the finish line benefitting Imerman Angels’ mission to enable 1-on-1 cancer support for cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers
Congratulations, Team Imerman Angels, for completing the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. We believe that every fundraising page created, jersey worn while training, and each individual informed of the Imerman Angels mission helps raise awareness to ensure that no one faces cancer alone.
Our marathon weekend began with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Health and Fitness Expo at McCormick Place Convention Center. Guests were invited to browse more than 200 exhibitors of marathon apparel, footwear, and latest fitness technology. On Saturday evening, Team Imerman Angels members and their families were invited to enjoy a protein-packed pasta dinner at Bongiorno’s courtesy of Imerman Angels.
Team Imerman Angels, headed by first time marathon runner and head of Team IA recruiting Khitam Masoud, was comprised of 90 members from all over the United States and beyond. Masoud, a two-time cancer survivor, first decided to run with Imerman Angels last year when she met Israel Antonio, a blind athlete who runs for various organizations. His determination to overcome challenges inspired Khitam to train hard and cross the finish line in support of Imerman Angel’s cause.
Team Imerman Angels runners who participated in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon include: Matthew Abeles, Jessica Alger, Israel Antonio, Shilpa Anturkar, James Auste, Lisa Baranuska, Christina Bayer, Suzanne Blaising, Danielle Blount, Adam Callans, Michael Camerano, Prashant K Chawla, Isabel Chung, Brianne M Connolly, Pascale Dargis, Katie Donnewald, James R Escobar, Caitlin Fitzpatrick, Caroline Frost, Sean Gallagher, Heidi H. Gerhardt, Nicholas Gow, Christopher J. Hemzacek, Samantha J. Herink, Eric S Horng, Heather A. Hoskin, Brennan Hughes, Becky Ives, Daniel Jacobsen, Andrew D. Johnson, Stephen Johnson, Courtney Joseph, Mergim Kacija, Lysee Kaye, Christopher M. Klotz, Kimberly Koetter, Beth A. Kosar, Kristen Kostka, Daniel Krueger, Arlena Larocca, David S. Lautenbach, Helen M. Liggett, Ted A. Liggett, Matthew F. Logan, Sean Mansfield, Tyler Mansfield, Stacie Marshall, Khitam Masoud, Brandan Mccanna, Allison Mecher, Michael P Minogue, Paul T. Minogue, Mike Moreau, Kerry Morris, Aaron Mulvaney, Janelle Myers, Jonathon Nagle, Catherine Napier, Andy Nesheim, Michael Nickes, Gabrielle Niewinski, Grant A Niewinski, Hector Nunez, Devlin O’Connor, Erick N. Perez, Jessica Perez, Christopher Pilat, Jennifer Pilat, Eli Polites, Deanna Poneman, Todd M. Rubin, Lidsay Rufa, Mary Sanders, Richard Schad, Jay Schiesser, Tony Schirmang, Jennifer Shulkin, Brent Smyth, Anne Marie Stephen, Timothy Swindle, Kaleb Taylor, Coree K. Thomas, Cheryl A. Trace, Stacey L. Vallarta, Laura Walker, Kevin J. Ware, Stephanie Wedel, Bobby Weil, Sarah Werner, David M. Wolf, Kathleen G. Yagihashi, and Lynn M. Yakoweshen.
Factor 75, a healthy meal delivery service, was waiting at the finish line to feed all the hungry members of Team IA a protein packed meal.
Coming up, Team Imerman Angels will be participating in the Hot Chocolate 15/5K run in Grant Park on November 3 as well as the Shamrock Shuffle 8K in April 2014.
Why do you run for Imerman Angels?
Deep down inside I wish that I could be a caregiver mentor angel, but I’ve never had the courage to do so. I run because I can. I run with Team IA because I am so impressed by those that can open themselves up by sharing their stories and being there for another person facing cancer. I wish that I could put cancer behind me and pretend like it never happened and that it didn’t create a new normal, but I’ll never get away from it. So I make the best from the worst. I run and fundraise because it is the least that I can do for such a great organization. I am overwhelmingly impressed by the Mentor Angels, they blow my mind.
What is it about running that connects you to the mission?
The journey and the training up to and including the race reminds me of those that face cancer. Every effort is put into making sure that you remain strong and push yourself to the end. When the finish line is in sight, you can drag yourself, tired and empty, across the finish line knowing that you can finally rest. What strikes me is the fact that you are surrounded by supporters the entire race. Unless you have someone running with you the whole way, it is easy to feel alone. We need people who will join us on the path who really understand how hard the race is and who will celebrate with you as you cross the finish line.
Tell us about your connection to the Chicago Marathon?
The 2007 Chicago Marathon was my first Marathon; at the time I was running for the Young Survival Coalition which was a wonderful source of support for my wife. For those that remember, 2007 was so hot that they cancelled it midway through the race. Fortunately, I was less than a quarter mile away from the finish line, so nothing was going to stop me. I learned that day that marathons are unpredictable. The best we could do was give everything we had and try to not look surprised.
What’s your favorite race?
Chicago Marathon will always have a special place in my heart. 2013 will be my 7th Chicago Marathon and hopefully my 21st Marathon overall. I have never run a race with so much spectator support. The opportunity to run through all the different neighborhoods in Chicago is what makes this such an incredible race. It is the biggest race that I have ever run at 45,000 capacity, compared to the Stone Bridge Marathon, where I have only ran past two people, which is at 200 capacity.
What’s your favorite Team IA moment?
It is hard to pinpoint my favorite moment, but running with wings and a big pink puff on your head is always a good time. I think it is awesome when runners talk with me during the marathon about why I am wearing the wings. I actually love all the attention around the wing and wig. They laugh, point, and take pictures. Plus I get to talk about how much I love Imerman Angels.
Join Team Imerman Angels in our biggest race of the year, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
In 2012, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon sold out in six days. Register today as a Team Imerman Angels athlete. As one of the World Marathon Majors, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is a premier race for elite runners. Chicago is also a great choice for a first-time marathoner. It is a fast and flat course with over 1.7 million spectators to keep you motivated as you run through 29 of Chicago’s great neighborhoods. On Sunday, October 13, 45,000 runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries will set out to accomplish this big goal.
Benefits for our Chicago Marathon runners include:
Team Membership in all 2013 Events
- A Team Imerman Angels tech shirt or t-shirt
- A personalized fundraising page with support
- Complimentary marathon training with CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association)
- Access to Chicago Marathon specific events such as our pre-race Pasta Dinner & Post-Race Bash
- The knowledge that all money raised will help provide 1-on-1 support to cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers
All interested runners are encouraged to register for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon when registration opens on February 19th at 12:00pm CST. This race will sell out quickly this year.
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Whether you are going for distance or speed this running season, there is one way to add just a little more meaning towards your passion: running for a great cause.
What is Team IA? An athletic team that supports Imerman Angels. Every fundraising page created, jersey worn while training, and individual you tell about Imerman Angels helps raise awareness through your network and in the community.
Choose ANY RACE, ANY WHERE to represent Imerman Angels.
We have runners representing Imerman Angels at races across the country and beyond. In Chicago, you’ll be in the company of numerous Imerman Angels runners at these races: Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, Soldier Field 10 Miler, 13.1 Chicago, Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, South Shore Triathlon, Chicago Triathlon, September Half Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and Hot Chocolate 15k/5k.
Check back into our blog over the next few weeks. We will be sharing inspirational stories and experiences from our team as we lead up to the 2013 Chicago Marathon Registration. Or take the plunge and join our team at www.firstgiving.com/imermanangels/2013 and put some wings into your race!