Boy takes reins of his diabetes and joins in Joslin campaign

U.S. – Sam Murray, 8, appears on a Joslin Diabetes Center billboard on Albany Street, facing I-93.

August 12, 2007

Sam Murray, an 8-year-old who lives in Savin Hill, agreed to let his face appear on billboards across Massachusetts for the noblest of reasons: educating people about diabetes and raising money for the Joslin Diabetes Center. “That,” he said, “and because I thought it would be pretty cool to have my picture all over the place.”

The first billboard, showing Sam in an orange rugby shirt, holding a glucose monitor and standing before a chalkboard, recently went up on Albany Street, facing Interstate 93. Sam and another child are the stars of Joslin’s year-long billboard campaign, made possible by donated space, valued at $500,000, from ClearChannel. “Let’s erase diabetes from his future,” the billboards urge.

Sam, who will be a fourth-grader next month at the Brimmer and May School in Chestnut Hill, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last year after he lost weight and became sluggish. Another boy in the neighborhood had recently been diagnosed, so his parents were quick to recognize his symptoms.

They were impressed by how well he coped with the disease, which requires him to wear a pump the size of a small cellphone that continuously injects insulin into his body.

“Sammy from the get-go has really adapted to this much better than we could have possibly imagined,” said his father, Dan Murray. “He’s kind of taken on this role as ambassador.”

Sam was recognized at a ceremony this month when Joslin unveiled the new billboard ads. “It was exciting,” he said. “I was probably blushing.”

But he’s already getting used to the recognition. “When my aunt and uncle and cousins were here, we were just driving,” he said, “and all of a sudden, my aunt said, ‘I see Sammy!’ “

Billboard Connection

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