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Local non-profit helps a mother carry on her daughter's memory

COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH) - A local organization is carrying on the spirit of a young girl who passed away from a rare blood disorder.

Samantha Jane McCarthy was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia when she was in first grade. She spent years in and out of hospitals, trying different medications, enduring endless needles and even undergoing a bone marrow transplant at just 11 years old.

One thing kept Sam going throughout her treatments was music. She developed a close bond with a music therapist named Brian while she was in the hospital, and together, they recorded a cover of a Mat Kearny song for Sam’s mother Nikki McCarthy.

Unfortunately, after a hard-fought battle, Sam passed away.

Nikki took the pain of losing her daughter and turned it into something that brings joy to other children and their families. Nikki started Sam’s Fans, a non-profit organization in Columbus that raises money for music and art therapy for children with serious illnesses. To date, Sam’s Fans has raised more than $100,000 for hospitals in Ohio.

“Our mission is to support and enhance music and art therapy programs that serve ill children and the families,” Nikki said. “We have programing in four Ohio hospitals, whether it’s music therapist or art therapists, any kind of discipline, no matter what kind of patient it is.”

After Hoda Kotb featured a story about Sam’s Fans on the Today Show, Nikki spent a day at one of the hospitals Sam’s Fans supports and saw families experience music and art therapy for the first time.

“It’s a very personal experience,” Nikki said. “I knew what it felt like but it was nice to see other people feel the same way.”

Nikki still prefers to let children and families experience the therapy sessions without any interference, knowing the impact Sam’s Fans has on families is priceless.

If you would like to contribute to Sam’s Fans, they will be holding a benefit concert with a performance by Mat Kearney on Thursday, May 24. To purchase a ticket, click or tap here. All proceeds will benefit Sam’s Fans.


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