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April 7, 2014

'Life According to Sam' slated for Peabody Award

PEABODY — Young Sam Berns inspired millions around the world with his story of courage and perseverance in the face of a rare and deadly disease: progeria. While Sam is no longer with us, his story, chronicled in the 2013 HBO documentary “Life According to Sam,” continues to move and inspire millions. Just last week it was announced that the film is due for a Peabody Award.

The national Peabody Award recognizes “stories that matter” and represents the best of electronic media each year across radio, television and the Web. For the 73rd annual awards, 46 winners were selected from more than 1,100 entries. “Life According to Sam” was directed and produced by Sean and Andrea Fine and screened in several film festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013.

Sam, who died in January at age 17 from complications due to progeria, and his family have close ties to Peabody. His parents, Drs. Scott Berns and Leslie Gordon, started the Progeria Research Foundation in Peabody, and Sam’s aunt Audrey Gordon, a Peabody resident, runs the foundation. Each year, PRF hosts a charitable road race during the city’s International Festival, and the documentary was screened at City Hall last fall during a special red carpet event.

“We are thrilled that ‘Life According to Sam’ was chosen. Its story of love, life and hope for children with progeria continues to ‘matter’ to more people every day,” said Audrey Gordon in an announcement.

The film shares Sam’s life, and his and his parents’ efforts to persevere and find a cure for the rapid childhood aging disease. Sam was first diagnosed with Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome just before he turned 2. Over the next 15 years, Sam became the face of PRF, helping bring international awareness to the disease.

While the official selection has been announced, the actual Peabody statuette won’t be presented until May 17 at a luncheon ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. The film is available on DVD from the HBO Store.

You can reach John Castelluccio at 978-338-2527, jcastelluccio@salemnews.com or via Twitter at @SNjcastelluccio.

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