Stay strong for Sam


Lexi Rossow, Managing Editor

“It was one of those what-if moments,” sophomore Madeline Kemper said. “Like what if this happened to someone and then, it did.”
What if a sophomore student found a large lump under his arm that turned out to be an enlarged lymph node? What if, when tested, the lymph node contained cancerous cells after it was removed in surgery? What if a healthy young man who played football and lacrosse, participated in Leadership and enrolled in multiple AP classes, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma cancer over Thanksgiving break of his second year in high school?
Sophomore Sam Wainman has already undergone three rounds of chemotherapy since discovering he had cancer in November. This sudden diagnosis caught his family, his friends and everyone who knew him by surprise, but just like the “strong family” they are, the Wainmans have dealt with the shock well. The rest of the community has also jumped into action to help.
Though Sam is doing well and keeps up with his classes, the process is draining.
“I’m always tired now,” Sam said, referring to the chemotherapy treatments.
Across social media, Lucas Wainman, Sam Wainman’s older brother, started hashtaging “#teamwainman” and it exploded across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Tom Wainman, Sam Wainman’s father, started a website to keep all of the family and friends educated throughout their journey to recovery. He updates the website as often as possible, and adds pictures and links Tweets of all the friends and family sending love from across the Internet using the hashtag “#teamwainman” to connect the website. The community and his family refuse to leave Sam to battle this cancer alone.
“Even people from my high school are reaching out,” Tom Wainman said, “through the website, Twitter and Facebook.”
Senior Cory Faiello hosted a Ping-Pong tournament in the old gym the day before winter break while Leadership sold green t-shirts with the words “Stay Strong for Sam” on the front and the hashtag “#teamwainman” on the back. All proceeds were returned back to the Wainman family for medical expenses, and they have been more than thankful for all the support. Students have been deeply touched by Sam’s story, such as senior Meghan Fuerst, who made a letter box for people to put uplifting letters in.
Sophomore Rhett Wilson set up a large banner in the media center and cafeteria to sign and write notes to Sam Wainman.
“Sam is my best friend and my dad was diagnosed with cancer as well, so it has really touched me,” Wilson said.
The banner will be hung at the first lacrosse game of the season, and when he does return to school after chemotherapy, Sam Wainman will have a welcome banner to greet him. Friends have collaborated efforts to get Sam his homework from his various AP and honors classes, so he does not fall too far behind.
The Hagerty community has not been the only part of Oviedo helping out “Team Wainman.” Friends of his older siblings who both go to college far from home have sent love over the distance.
“A lot of Lucas’ and Lyndsay’s friends have been deeply affected,” Sam’s mother Kim Wainman said. “He is like their little brother too.”
Alumni Austin Wilson and a friend of Lucas Wainman organized a cornhole tournament to raise funds, and alumni Ethan Albers, along with other friends, have shaved their heads in support for Sam. Lyndsay, Sam’s sister, had 200 of her sorority sisters purchase wristbands, whom wear them daily.
“Watching the community come together over Sam, I think it shows that just because you don’t know somebody personally doesn’t mean you can’t care,” Wilson said.
The Wainmans have been supported by the community through fundraisers and kind acts. Sam only has three more chemotherapy rounds to go through , but he is also now performing an experimental study with a new medicine that should lower the effects of the chemotherapy.
“I don’t think there will ever be a time we’ll worry about him not making it, it’s just how it’s going to affect him for the rest of his life,” Kemper, his girlfriend, said, “You’re never technically cured of it, but there’s not going to be a good chance of it ever coming back.”