SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 3, 2013

Rotary Club holds event to raise progeria awareness


The Salem News

---- — Peabody Rotary recently held a red carpet presentation of the HBO production “Life According to Sam.” Close to 300 people attended the Nov. 2 event at Peabody City Hall. The documentary features the life of Sam Berns, who has progeria, a rare disease that affects about 250 children worldwide and causes early and rapid aging. Sam’s aunt, Audrey Gordon, is the Peabody-based Progeria Research Foundation’s executive director. Peggy Pedro and Cathy Gravel, the co-chairs of the event, were impressed by the size of the crowd and the reaction of those in attendance and glad the event raised awareness of this rare disease.

The movie, which was first shown on HBO on Oct. 21, details Sam’s life, from birth to the realization that he had progeria, to the discovery of the gene that causes the disease and the efforts to have the medication, through clinical trials, be accepted for treatment. The next step is to find a cure. The life expectancy for children with progeria is 13. Sam is now 17 and is very active in high school activities with plans to go to college soon. The movie is being shown on HBO, as well as On Demand.

After the very emotional movie was shown, Sam and his parents, Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns, spoke to the group through Skype and answered questions.