Bill Sample LHD
Founder/President Emeritus, Sunshine Foundation
December 2, 1935 - June 4, 2014
William Marshall Sample was born in the Olney section of Philadelphia to Marshall McKinley Sample and Mary Caroline (Doser) Sample and grew up with his sisters Norma and Alverna. Bill went to Olney High School and upon graduation enlisted in the US Army during the Korean Conflict. After his service, Bill became a Philadelphia Police Officer. While serving on foot beat at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Bill founded the Sunshine Foundation and made a wish come true for Bobby from Warminster PA, this gift would become the first wish ever granted to a child with a life-threatening diagnosis.
With the support of many and following the publication of Reader's Digest's "The Cop Who Spreads Sunshine" in 1982, the Sunshine Foundation became the first wish granting organization and until this day, the only national wish granting organization to make dreams come true for more than 37,000 children who have not just life-threatening illnesses but also children with life long severe chronic diagnoses as well as trauma from abuse, whose parents cannot afford to give their child a dream come true. Bill Sample always believed that every child should have at least one dream come true and he dedicated the last 37 years of his life to that worthwhile cause.
Upon realization that so many children wanted to visit the Central Florida theme parks, Bill found property and moved to Florida in 1989 to oversee construction of Sunshine Foundation's Dream Village. As with granting a child's wish, Sunshine Foundation's Dream Village was a vision Bill had to give the children who dreamed of fairytales, a magical village where they could spend their visit as if living in the forest and their own cottage with a magical theme. Bill also had the vision to see a Sunshine Foundation Dreamlift, a jet full of children with special needs and their care takers, took place in the early 1980's that would be the first of over 93 Dreamlifts that has flown thousands of children down to a Central Florida theme park for the day.
Bill Sample was always proud of Sunshine Foundation's work with the children who have the challenges of Progeria (Hutchinson Guilford Syndrome). He and the Sunshine Foundation began an Annual Progeria Reunion in 1982, which would bring together, for 27 years, all known children from throughout the world who were diagnosed with Progeria, simply to spend a week together so they would not feel alone. Bill's efforts in support of these special children brought about awareness of this truly life changing diagnosis.
Bill, along with the support of many donors and volunteers, set up the systems and procedures that would spread Sunshine into the lives of so many children who along with their families have daily struggles that many of us could never begin to understand. Bill has always been proud but humble about his many awards that among many others include:
President Ronald Reagan's Volunteer Action Award (First Recipient)
Bill is survived by his wife, Kate (Kathy McCoy) Sample, his three daughters, Diane Sample, Donna (Jeff) Tener, Ellen Caroline Sample and four grandchildren, Kyle Tener, Mark Tener, Jordan Sample and Nicole Tener. Bill had a heart the size of the universe that was most tender towards children and most significantly, children with special healthcare needs. His legacy lives on through the seed he planted so very long ago.
Read what people remember and will miss most about Bill.
Honor Bill and help his legacy live on. Donate here in Bill's memory.
If you have any stories or pictures you would like to share of Bill please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share them with everyone who loved Bill.