Community plans Ninja Turtle benefit for "Sam"

ALTON, Ill. - Sam Bigg's aunt promised him she'd get the turtles.

"His favorite ninja turtle is the blue one, Leonardo," explained Stephanie Zimmerman. "And he does not know this is happening!"

Sam is just five years old, and a big fan of the crime-fighting turtles. The little boy from the Alton-Godfrey area is also fighting a battle, himself.

In March, Sam's family says they learned the boy had Stage Four Hepatoblastoma, a type of childhood liver cancer. They spent the summer traveling back and forth to Children's Hospital in St. Louis for treatment.

Sam's smile never faded.

"He's a ray of sunshine," Zimmerman said. "Everybody knows him by his smile, he's an inspiration."

"He's an awesome kid that had something really bad happen to him," said Brian Biggs, Sam's father. "It's overwhelming the outpouring of support everybody has given us."

That support is coming from all corners of their community, many who call themselves "Sam's Soldiers." Earlier this month, 12-year-old Alexis Scroggins organized a motorcycle ride to raise more than $800 for Sam's family. Another one is planned for Sunday in Springfield, Missouri.

But he really wanted to meet "the turtles."

Another friend in the community, Shelia "Sammie" Hayes of Sammie Prairie Inn, helped raise the money to get them, and help Zimmerman keep her promise.

"My customers, they all come out and open their wallets and here we are!" she said, with a smile.

Sam's Soldiers hosted the benefit party on Saturday, and encouraged everyone to dress like a ninja turtle. The Guinness World Record for the most ninja turtles in one pace currently sits at 1,394, and the group's goal is to break that. By mid-afternoon hundreds of people already showed up in costume or themed t-shirts.

With the help of professional costumes and traveling performers "DB's Ninja Turtles," Sam got to meet his favorite crime-fighters. They danced, they toured the room, and the snapped countless pictures. Saturday evening, Partners in Kryme was expected to perform their famous Ninja Turtle-themed tunes.

All proceeds from the party will go to Sam's family.

"It's amazing," said Sam's mother Lee Ann. "At the beginning, we were overwhelmed with the cancer part of it, the treatments, the surgery, the uncertainness. Now we're overwhelmed with all the support from family and friends and people we don't even know."

Sam's competed his last chemotherapy treatment this past week. He returns to the hospital for a follow-up visit in September, to evaluate his health.

To read more about Sam's Soldier, visit their Facebook page.


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