Sam Rush was best described by her family and friends as a fun-loving, free spirit. She was the neighborhood tomboy who rallied all the children together to play games. Although she has been gone for almost two years, those that loved her are doing their best to honor her life while helping save another one.
Sam's mother, Leigh Ann remembers September 2, 2005 as though it was yesterday. Sam was 8 years old when she and some friends were riding through the neighborhood on a golf cart. And that's when the unimaginable occurred. It is unclear exactly what happened that day, but somehow Sam fell from the golf cart. She had a traumatic brain injury and died two days later.
"Sam loved to play all kinds of sports," recalls Leigh Ann about enrolling her daughter in soccer one summer. "When she realized that she had to play as a team, she didn't do real well. She really liked golf because it is a one man deal."
Sam's love for the game of golf inspired members of the Philadelphia Country Club to host a tournament in her honor. The 3rd Annual Sam Rush Memorial Golf Tournament will be played at PCC on Friday, June 29. The two-man scramble will get underway at 5:30 p.m., when golfers will play the first nine holes before stopping for dinner. After the meal, the remaining nine holes will be played with glow-in-the-dark golf balls after the sun has gone down.
The Sam Rush Memorial, along with the help of other donations from the community, raised $23,000 over two years. That money was spent on something that Sam would have loved -- a pavilion on the playground of the Philadelphia Elementary School.
When Sam went into the 3rd grade she began to go to what she referred to as "the big playground," when she would come home, she would complain that she didn't like it because it was hot and there was no shade.
When it came time to build the pavilion, a friend of the Rush family stepped up to the plate. William White owns a construction company in Philadelphia, and he and his father began to look for help.
"We went to a building supply here in town and they agreed to give us the material at cost," White said. "All my subs that work for us agreed to do it at their cost."
Now that construction on the pavilion is nearing completion, the Rush family wants to give to another family in need. They have decided that the money raised from this year's tournament will go to help the family of Jacob Stovall, a Philadelphia teenager suffering from neuroblastoma. Leigh Ann Rush knows how quickly hospital bills can add up.
"Being in the hospital drains you financially. That's why I want the tournament to be a success to help them in any way that they need help."
Sam's love for golf came from being around her father, Joe, who is an avid golfer. She had always wanted to play in a tournament with him and the two were planning to play together in the 2005 Jack and Jill Tournament that was scheduled for the month after her death.
"I don't think it will ever get any easier," Leigh Ann says about coping with the loss of her only daughter. "You learn to deal with it."
The cost of the tournament is $100 per team and is limited to the first 27 teams. Contact the Philadelphia Country Club at (601) 656-8512 to sign up.