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.