Sam Jam: 'truly a family'

By The Beacon | November 8, 2011 9:00pm

(Ian Hilger | THE BEACON)

By Bruce Garlinghouse Staff Writer

"We will find a cure."

Those are the words junior Sam Bridgman ended with after an emotional speech in front of nearly 400 people during halftime of Tuesday's Sam Jam.

The men and women's basketball teams joined together to take on the Oregon Sports Disability wheelchair basketball team to raise awareness for Friedrich's Ataxia, a degenerative disease that has restricted Bridgman to a wheelchair.

"I think everyone had a good time. I had a really good time," Bridgman said. "It made my night to see that many people there."

The Pilots trailed 22-4 eight minutes into the first half and 32-10 going into the second.

But in the spirit of charity, the Pilots were given 20 points on their next basket, cutting the lead to two.

Despite a buzzer beater by the man of the night, the Pilots couldn't mount a comeback and lost 47-54.

Nevertheless, the night was a success.

The event raised a total of $6,300 from t-shirt sales and online donations, which included a $3,500 donation from an anonymous source, who Bridgman said has two children with F.A.

"I thought we weren't even going to get to our goal," Bridgman said. "I have been stoked all day."

Sam Westendorf, who planned the event, said he didn't see how it could have gone any better and was proud to be part of a community so willing to help out one of its students.

"Not even the athletic department, but further than that," Westendorf said. "We truly are a family here."

Head baseball coach, Chris Sperry, whom Bridgman has become close to while working as the team's manager, said the event was a proud moment.

"Sam is always there, never misses a game," an emotional Sperry said. "To be on the other side watching Sam ... it's a great source of pride."

He continued by saying he was proud to have a player like Westendorf.

"It speaks volume to the type of person Westendorf is," he said. "I am blessed to be around both (Bridgman and Westendorf."

Bridgman and Westendorf said they plan on holding the event next year and Westendorf said he wants to continue working the UP community after both he and Bridgman graduate.

"There will always be someone to help," Westendorf said.

(Ian Hilger | THE BEACON)