In Honor of Sam Hanna

Sam’s KIDS Fund

In Honor of
Sam Hanna

Play4Sam is a phrase that the friends and fellow students at Independence School came up with to help honor their late friend, Sam Hanna. 100% of proceeds from #Play4Sam merchandise at The Independence School spirit store will support The Samuel John Hanna ’24 Memorial Scholarship.

Established in 2023 by family and friends to honor Samuel John Hanna ‘24, an Independence School student from 2017 (2nd Grade) until his passing on Christmas, 2022, the Fund will provide partial scholarship(s) to a rising seventh-grade student who best exemplifies the wonderful qualities of Sam and his connection to people. A brave, passionate, and resilient young man, Sam enriched the lives of everyone he touched with his attributes of kindness, love, humility, joy, wisdom, and determination. Sam’s grace and love of life was gifted to his family and friends, along with the lessons he taught us, measured well beyond his 13 years. Sam was a spiritual warrior who modeled humility, team spirit, integrity, and happiness. #Play4Sam

What Play4Sam means to me

Be grateful for this day
Help one another
Let joy in
Give grace

Lexie Hanna

For me, to Play4Sam means to honor the life of an incredible boy who was lost far too soon. I’ve struggled with whether or not what this means to me is even valid because I hadn’t been close to Sam since a year or 2 before his passing, but the joy and warmth I still feel when I think about the times we did spend together speaks volumes about the light that Sam carried with him and shared with everyone around him. To Play4Sam means to love, respect, and deeply care for every person in your life, whether it be family, friends, teammates, or even opponents. To Play4Sam means to push through adversity. Despite the health challenges he faced throughout his short life, his hard work and success on athletic fields and in all areas of his life shows an amazing level of strength and determination that we all should try to embody. And finally, to Play4Sam means to let his unbelievably bright light shine through me in hopes of impacting half as many lives as Sam Hanna did. In short, love deeply, smile often, be strong, and spread your light and happiness to anyone you cross paths with. I love you Hanna family and forever will Sam live on in my heart, mind, and daily actions.

Josephine Wellons

What does, “Play4Sam” mean to me?? Words such as Joy, beauty, Passion, Commitment, Fun, Dedication, Laughter and LOVE all resonate strongly in my heart! Most significantly for me, “Play4Sam,” encourages me to remember to SEIZE THE MOMENT! I try to cherish every moment I have with family, friends, thoughts, moments etc. I close my eyes and see Sam’s endearing smile and his happy voice. I feel peaceful during these times; I take a deep breath and exhale; I smile back. My heart is light and loving! I then say, no matter where I am, “Thank you, Sam!” I am so GRATEFUL to have have known Sam! His gift of life is eternal. His light will shine forever in my heart, mind and deeds. Remembering Sam reminds me to Love more, reach out more, laugh more and enjoy whatever comes my way! THANK YOU, Lexie for your friendship and for allowing me the GIFT OF SAM!! He is always in my thoughts regardless of the day or the time! He shows up in many ways throughout my days! “Hi, Mrs. Gravuer!” I still hear his words, his voice and see His SMILE! Play4Sam is a joyous reminder to me to “Be like/live like Sam!” I cannot think of any better way to start my day than to practice living my day the way Sam lived each day!
Love you All and Thank You!!


When I see these words I think of the beautiful smiling and joyful Sam – a glowing ray of light and joy. – a reminder that love lights the way. In all we do, be led by love and play with joy.


Love the game like Sam would.
Believe in yourself like Sam would.
Embrace the time with friends like Sam would.
Laugh, Smile and be Humble like Sam would.

Bryan Aprahamian

Play4Sam means to play with joy, to never give up, and to pick up your teammates when they are down. It’s digging a little deeper late in the 4th quarter, respecting your opponent, and playing with a smile – just like Sam.

Sam Scharnowski

“play4Sam” means to me to always remember Sam’s gentle, kind, loving soul and whenever you are playing with others be like him and spread your love just as he did. Play for him and whenever you see or hear the number 4 you will know he is with you ❤️❤️❤️

Chris and Joe

Play4Sam means following what Sam modeled. Play4Sam means to embrace life with positivity, kindness towards others, and with a purpose greater than oneself. Play4Sam means to honor Sam’s life; a life well lived by a young man well loved.

Cyndi Scharnowski

What Sam instinctively recognized was that despite the seriousness of competition, play remains at its heart, creating an atmosphere of enjoyment and spontaneity.  To me play4sam means enjoying the moment and always giving your best effort during whatever activity brings you joy!

Mark Rochon

To me, Play4Sam means to live for a purpose bigger than myself. One that allows me to be brave- not only in the face of adversity and competition, but in the greatest moments of life. Embracing the hard, but never forgetting to stop and smile at the little things with gratitude.

Bryn Rochon

To me, play4Sam means fully embodying everything Sam was and continues to be not just in sports and activities, but every day life as well. Sam was a kid who always brought a smile and positive vibes wherever he went, never afraid to go out of his way to lift someone up or offer a kind gesture. Sam was mature for his age, a leader amoung his peers and a student who truly cared for his teachers and classmates. Personally, Sam and I always had a connection with golf that I know would have grown so much over the years. Now, whenever I play or even caddy on the course, I think of how much he would have enjoyed it and the positive, happy smile he carried everyday. No matter the struggles one may be facing on the golf course or even the difficulties of life that day, thinking of Sam reminds me that life is fun, golf is a game, and to always just stay positive. Kindness and positivity is what everyone needs in life, and Sam the Man is my daily reminder of that. I will always wear my play4Sam braclet to give me that reminder and Sam always seems to give me it when I need it most. Play4Sam is Sam acting though all of us and I strive to be the kind, mature, positive kid he was for the rest of my life.

Will Aprahamian

Play4Sam is our family mantra! It is a golden opportunity to keep his Positive, kind and enduring spirit in us all alive. Love you always Sam! xox

Nina Stine

Play4Sam means to:  Play hard, play fair and give it everything you’ve got!

Asher Eichenbaum

Play4Sam means finding positivity and a way to promote kindness in every path of life. It means finding motivation through the little things. By training ourselves to focus on the happy moments of the day no matter how small, just like Sam did, we cultivate a mindset of gratitude and contentment. Embracing this outlook empowers us to face challenges with optimism and appreciate the beauty in even the simplest moments, ensuring a constant sense of joy in our hearts. Always #P4S ❤️

Alyssa Aprahamian

Play4Sam means remembering the joy and love Sam brought to everyone’s lives. It is a reminder for us to look back on Sam’s life and exemplify his virtues ❤️

Sophia DellaVecchia

Intent. Purpose. Divine meaning. Say yes. Give everything you got.

Riley Rochon

Sam left a positive impact on all of our lives whether it was his upbeat personality, laughing together and loving one another. Play4Sam calls us to do just that in his honor as he watches over his friends and family: smile, laugh and love one another in everything that you do.

Joey & Julia DellaVecchia

Play4Sam means to never give up, even when faced with the most difficult of circumstances, and to fight with the intention to win.

Andrew Scharnowski

Play4Sam means many different things to me. One means remember to not only Play4Sam, but to live, love, and be happy for Sam. Playing4Sam means to honor the life of Sam in all that I do. Sam was an amazing friend to everyone he knew and he could always bring a smile to anyone’s face. I think that everyone should be a bit more like Sam. Everyone who knew Sam loved him and will always have a piece of him with them. We should all let that piece show. I also know that no matter how much we may miss Sam, we have the amazing community around us to remind us of the good times we spent with him and to encourage us to let him live through those memories.

Kemble Wellons

To play and live each moment with integrity and JOY

Meredith Perny

Play harder and know that he is always watching you play and guarding you through tough times and scary nights and sad days.

Cooper Perny

Written before the first game of the THS summer league soccer season. I think there are a few different meanings of #play4sam. The first is pretty much what it says, which is to play for him. To be driven to win and achieve what you think he would be happy to see happen. It also means to me to just have fun while playing sports because that was what he enjoyed doing, having fun. To me I am more driven to win and enjoy sports than ever in my life and that will be the same for every sport I play.

Sam Perny

To me Play4Sam is a mindset that applies on and off the court or field of play. Indeed, it is a mindset that can be applied to everything in life. I had the privilege of watching Sam Hanna mature as a young athlete and young man. From early on it was evident that Sam possessed, and embodied, certain character traits that he used on and off the field of play:

TEAMWORK: Sam always brought out the best in his teammates. Whether it was leading by example and hustling, or giving a teammate a few words of encouragement, Sam lifted those up around him. He gave everything he had, every minute of every game, to help his team, and he did so with a smile on his face and a warrior-like mentality. His actions were always a true sense of inspiration to all of his teammates.

DETERMINATION AND GRIT: As the youngest of three, Sam knew he had big shoes to fill. What he lacked in experience from being the youngest, he made up for in determination and grit. He was determined to keep up, determined to accomplish hard things, determined to lock down someone on the basketball court or soccer field. I can remember a soccer game that was close down the stretch and the other team began to ratchet up their offensive attack. Sam dug deep and was relentless in his defense and protection of the goal. So much so that when a player on the other team ripped a shot that was tracking to find the back of the net, Sam elevated and headed the ball away from goal. His determination and grit helped his team get a W and fend off an attack.

JOY AND HAPPINESS: Sam ALWAYS had a smile on his face. ALWAYS! He radiated happiness and joy, and that was infectious to those around him. He was quick to laugh at a joke or funny situation. He saw the beauty in every moment and brought a radiant sense of happiness to every situation. Whether it was playing with our youngest son, who was a few years younger than Sam, or throwing a ball for a dog, he always had the time to spread his joy and happiness to those around him. His smile was the manifestation of his inner light and served to lift up everyone with his happiness and radiant joy.

To me, Play4Sam is a mindset that represents these tremendous character traits that Sam possessed and embodied: Teamwork, Determination and Grit, Joy and Happiness. This mindset transcends the field of play and can be applied to everything in life. These Play4Sam character traits are ones that I try to embrace on a daily basis. By embracing these Play4Sam traits, I feel that we can all spread Sam’s light and make our community a better place. Work hard, play hard, have fun . . . Play4Sam 🙂

Matt Perny

What does play for Sam mean to me? When I first heard the question I tried to think about it but realized that it meant too much to be covered in one thought. So I tasked myself with coming up with my answer to this question while hiking in Maine over the course of my first week on my backpacking trip. The first thing I learned is that hiking with a backpack is a lot harder than hiking without one. But when you summit a mountain or walk 14 miles with a pack it is far more rewarding and meaningful. I find this similar to playing4Sam. While we are playing for him have to carry his light and legacy. This is harder, as holding ourselves accountable to play with the same level of respect and humanity that Sam played with every day is very difficult. Although this is a hard task, it is important and all the more meaningful if we all just take the time and care. PLAY4SAM

Thomas Flickinger

To work hard, never give up and to keep trying until you are finished what you are trying to do. Sam was kind, funny and was always willing to play with us younger boys. I will always think of that and try to live up to it when I think of Sam and Play4Sam.

Oliver Perny

To me Play4Sam means to play hard, have fun, have good sportsmanship and do a little bit of trash talking. I Play4Sam because I feel like I am representing him by giving it my all. Every time I Play4Sam I know that he is watching and cheering me on.

Oliver Wilson

As parents, “Play4Sam” inspires us to encourage our children to live their lives with no limitations and to be brave in the face of any adversity. It also means to treasure time with your friends and family and to laugh easily and heartily.

Josh and Steph Wilson

Play4Sam means so many things to me. The one word that stands out the most is to be BRAVE. Sam is the bravest boy I’ve ever known.

Jessica Rochon

Play4sam means to never give up on anything you are doing. You are more than capable of doing anything that you set your mind to just like Sam💗

Taylor Rochon