When 13-year-old Samantha Minervini tells her story, one cannot help but be impressed with her wisdom and courage. In early 2015, Samantha began complaining of severe hip pain. Because she is an avid gymnast, her parents assumed she had suffered an injury.
When the pain became too severe for her to walk, they rushed her to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Later that night, they received a call from the hospital asking them to come back immediately.
“I was so scared,” said Minervini. “I just knew it was going to be cancer.”
Then Minervini and her parents heard the words that they feared, acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
That day began a journey for Minervini and her family that they never could have expected. Throughout the year, she would face many challenges, including daily chemo treatments, hair loss and missing all of the summer fun her friends enjoyed. But, amid all of the frustration and pain, Minervini and her family also experienced some tremendous blessings.
In April 2015, a woman at Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp. referred the Minervinis to Sherry’s Run, a faith-based nonprofit in Wilson County that provides financial assistance to cancer patients and families with a true need. For the past year, Sherry’s Run has kept the lights on for Minervini and her family while they fight the greatest battle of her life. They have also provided gas and grocery cards to relieve the burden of long stints spent in the hospital in Nashville.
“If love could cure cancer, the cure would be found at Sherry’s Run,” says Rajeana Minervini, Sam’s mother. “Sherry’s Run is restoration; God’s soldiers that helped shield us from the enemy and led us out of the darkest moments of despair with their love.”
As is usually the case, the blessing of this relationship goes both ways.
“The Minervinis have been such a blessing to know,” said Tonyia Watson, director of patient assistance for Sherry’s Run. “It is because of people like this that I am so thankful for the opportunity to do this job.”
Minervini and her family were blessed by many others throughout this journey, as well. They mentioned their “Pa” Corley who has provided constant love and support, as well as Sam’s gymnastics coach, Ginger Raines, who visited the hospital often and has encouraged Minervini to continue her training and members of the Lynnwood Pentecostal Church who faithfully visited and checked on her.
Minervini and her father, Rob, were determined to participate in the 2015 Sherry’s Run 5K event. However, when the day came, she was weak and tired due to the chemotherapy. She was able to ride on the survivor trolley at the event and watch her father cross the finish line. This was quite an accomplishment for Rob Minervini after having survived two heart attacks and a horrific car crash.
This spirit of overcoming must run in the family. Minervini gave hope to all of the other children out there fighting cancer.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “Always have hope. And, trust in God.”
Minervini dreams of one day becoming a nurse or gymnastics coach. In the meantime, she looks forward to next April when her treatments will be over.
“No matter what she decides to do with her life, we know she will go far and bless many,” Watson said.
Sherry’s Run invites everyone to mark their calendars for the 13th annual Sherry’s Run on Sept. 10 at 8 a.m. at 623 W. Main St. in Lebanon. Registration will open soon. Log on to sherrysrun.org to sign up.
In 2015, support allowed Sherry’s Run to assist 248 families in need with gas, groceries, utility bills, housing payments, prescription assistance, health insurance premiums, medical bills and colonoscopy assistance.
To learn more about Sherry’s Run, call 615-925-2592. To refer someone who might qualify for assistance, call 615-925-9932 or visit sherrysrun.org.