Every morning I wake up and think "What can I do to make my life count?"
Shawn, 15
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Mission Statement

The mission of Sammy’s Buddy Program is to normalize difference, encourage inclusion and build understanding around the challenges experienced by students with different abilities while developing student leaders within the community.

Special education and general education students come together to participate in authentic learning opportunities through which every child is visibly learning and growing from their time with each other. . . some emerge as leaders and peer supports and everyone comes to treat each other as true friends.
Noelle Converse, PhD

The Program

Sammy’s Buddy Program pairs students with disabilities with their typical peers. The current model pairs a general education class with a special education class within each participating school. The program works with teachers and curriculum directors to plan activities that encourage social and life skill development, leadership and inclusion. Students meet for monthly Buddy activities that result in growth for all involved. General education students participate in a parallel leadership curriculum. All supplies for the activities and lessons are provided by Sammy’s Buddy Program. Our goal is to create authentic learning experiences that help both special education and general education students learn and grow together.

The message behind Sammy’s Buddy Program is one I wish more people were familiar with because it is truly so important to realize the impact we all can have on those who are differently abled.
Abby Latham
Special Education Teacher

Board of Directors

Pat Loewi

Pat grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she taught English and history before moving to Washington, D.C. working on Capitol Hill doing press work. She is currently living in Denver, Colorado, near her daughter Kim, Kim’s husband Jeff, and her three granddaughters. Pat has spent most of her professional career in communications, radio ownership and nonprofit work. She served as CEO for Special Olympics Colorado as well as the Kempe Foundation for Abused and Neglected Children. However, she admits to learning most about kids who are “different” from her daughter Sammy’s experiences of feeling marginalized. Sammy was in a wheelchair with Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy from the age of 10 until her untimely death at age 22. Pat is therefore motivated to change the culture by promoting kindness, compassion and acceptance of kids who are “different.” SHOUT is Pat’s first book and, in March 2016, according to the Denver Post, SHOUT was the number one best-selling title in paperback non-fiction books, in the Denver region. SHOUT earned the Parent’s Choice award in 2016 out of 4,000 books nationally.

Kim Knous Dolan

Kim most recently served as the Associate Director of the Donnell-Kay Foundation. Her work revolved around school accountability, new school development, youth, and school leadership pipelines. In 2006 she helped lead the Manual High School renewal and support initiative as a loaned executive to Denver Public Schools. Prior to joining the foundation, Kim worked on state policy issues for Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) as well as the Colorado Association of School Boards. She also served as legislative aide to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), and was Associate Director of the Democratic Steering Committee in Washington, DC. Kim actively fundraises for education and youth-related causes, serves on the Board of Directors for the Donnell-Kay Foundation, is active on the development committee of STRIVE Preparatory Schools, and participated in Leadership Denver (class of ’05). Kim also was selected as one of Colorado’s “fifty for the future” by the Colorado Statesman in 2007. She holds a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Colorado at Denver. Kim, a Denver native, enjoys spending time with her three adorable and energetic young daughters and practicing yoga.

Ann Kiley

Ann Kiley is president of the Law Office of Ann C. Kiley, P.C. Her firm specializes in representing the elderly, the disabled, and the people who care about them. Ann’s cases have ranged from bringing claims under the National Childhood Vaccine Program Act on behalf of an injured child to investigating claims of financial exploitation of the elderly on behalf of the Denver Probate Court. Her pro bono experience includes writing a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals amicus brief on behalf of the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and handling cases for Metro Denver Volunteer Lawyers and the Legal Center for People With Disabilities. A 1996 graduate of the University of Denver College of Law, Ann has a BA from Connecticut College and an MA from the University of Colorado. A non-traditional law student, she began law school after a 20-year career in the health care industry. Ann recently completed several years of service on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Health Facilities Authority (COHFA). COHFA is a state authority responsible for issuing over $5 billion tax-exempt bonds on behalf of non-profit healthcare facilities in Colorado and nationwide. Other prior community activities include serving on the Board of Trustees for Big Brothers of Metro Denver, Inc., the Denver Zoological Foundation, and Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Robert S Fotheringham

Board Member and Director of Development

With a BA in English Literature from the University of Utah, Bob was accepted at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. In 1971, he started his own advertising and public relations firm, Fotheringham & Associates. His became the largest locally-owned agency in the market, then named FJC&N. This was sold to junior partners in 2000, and Brand Force, Inc, was born as a branding consultancy. Bob and his wife, Kathy, left to serve a three-year church mission until 2008. Bob has continued consulting on a part-time basis to this day. In the community Bob has served on the boards of the SL Area Chamber of Commerce, University of Utah Alumni Association, Crimson Club, Catholic Community Services, Garff Automotive, and Shout Utah. He was a founding member of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC) and served there for 10 years. Bob loves college-age students and has taught advertising and Institute of Religion classes at the University of Utah and at LDS Business College (now Ensign College). He enjoys snow skiing, Jackson Hole WY, University of Utah athletics, and the St Louis Cardinals. He and Kathy revel in the antics of their four children and 18 grandchildren.

Anne Kimble

Board Member and Utah Executive Director

Anne grew up in Salt Lake City and received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Utah. She moved to California for graduate school and earned a master’s degree in education from Pepperdine University. She began her career as a high school English teacher and focused much of her teaching pedagogy and curriculum on inclusion. Anne believes in supporting the marginalized within the classroom and community by teaching understanding, acceptance and empowerment. Anne has owned and operated a private tutoring business that caters to struggling students, including those with disabilities. Additionally, Anne has taught college writing to both local and international students and loves seeing her students broaden their perspectives and find their voices. Anne has volunteered in the community and nonprofit sector for over two decades. She now uses both her educational and nonprofit experience as the Utah Director for Sammy’s Buddy Program. Anne currently lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and four children. As a Utah native, she enjoys outdoor adventures including hiking, skiing and kayaking.

Heather Manone

Colorado Executive Director

After earning a Bachelors of University Studies from the University of New Mexico, with a degree emphasizing sustainable architecture and urban planning, Heather became a passionate advocate for healthier communities within and throughout our built environments. She has since developed educational opportunities and programs to promote school nutrition, school gardens, and building sustainability, all with an emphasis on empowering students through leadership and activism.

Heather has spent the better part of the last decade serving as a collaborative team leader within various educational programs and settings.  Her belief in the importance of expanding school experiences for students of all abilities blossomed from her work with school administrators and teachers seeking to dive deeply into current curriculum to discover new avenues for enhancement both within and outside the classroom.  This reach extended to include cultivating community partnerships designed to offer students opportunities to explore their local environment through culture, history, nature, and the built environment, bringing student learning to life. 

Her experience working with diverse student bodies that reflect a wide range of student needs, abilities, and cultural histories has led Heather to refine her focus to addressing student health needs through programming that emphasizes and provides for student social and emotional support. She is continually encouraged and inspired to find unique opportunities that reveal what students have in common, and how their differences can be celebrated through the fostering of inclusive experiences!

Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins

Board Member

Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins is a passionate advocate for the support and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and an activist for disability rights. She joined the disability rights movement at age six, and at age eight she participated in the famous “Capitol Crawl” protest to support the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. In 1990, she received the Americans With Disabilities Act Award from The Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of Americans with Disabilities.  Jennifer received her GED in 2002 and an Associate of Arts Degree in 2008 both from Arapahoe Community College before earning a B.S. in Family and Human Development from Arizona State University in 2017.

Today Jennifer is an educator and a motivational speaker and together with her new illustrated biography All the Way to the Top, Jennifer teaches audiences the importance of the ADA, the disability rights movement and its place in American history, with an emphasis on education, advocacy, and empowerment. The Museum of the Courageous named Jennifer as part of the Courageous Class of 2022.

Sammy Michelle Loewi (Honorary)

In spite of battling muscular dystrophy, Sammy Loewi made the absolute most of every moment until she died unexpectedly of pulmonary edema at age 22.  She never let her physical challenges define her.  Although she needed help getting dressed, with toileting, hair brushing and bathing, there was so much she could do and she focused her energies there.  She played the piano for 11 years, as well as the soprano saxophone and guitar.  She swam three times a week from the time she was two, eventually entering the National Disability Swimming Competition, where she set national records in the backstroke and the front crawl – even though her arms and legs were bent due to permanent muscle shortening.  Sammy’s quiet strength and unyielding positive attitude were an inspiration to others.  She fought for better wheelchair transport with the airlines, more accessible hotel accommodations and public transportation, and fair and equal treatment in the workplace for people with disabilities.  It was Sammy’s idea as a 10 year old to start the Buddy Program, she worked for a summer in the Daniels Executive MBA program office, and a graduate of Graland Country Day and East High School in Denver Colorado.  She served three years as the Colorado Muscular Dystrophy Ambassador and the kindness and empathy she exhibited to everyone she met serves as a reminder of how we can all give to others more of ourselves.