When someone passes away, it is their love, their wisdom, the memories they created and the lessons they taught that remain. After North Olmsted graduate Samer Babi passed away at the end of his senior year on June 17, 2018, his girlfriend Sydney Dion decided to share his strength with those still here.
“I want people to know he was literally the strongest person I ever met,” she said.
She started the SamerStrong Memorial Foundation.
“It was something we had talked about before Samer had passed away because he always wanted to help people through his journey, through his battle,” Dion explained. “So after he passed, the first thing I did was make that foundation because I knew it was really important to him.”
Babi, who was the captain of North Olmsted’s football team last year, passed away from cancer. Fittingly, the foundation aims to support families that are affected by childhood cancer and provide college scholarships for North Olmsted students. Currently, the charity is selling bracelets to raise money for Lymphoma research in honor of North Olmsted junior Kevin Phillips, who is battling the disease.
Dion drew the strength to assemble the charity and continue to chase her dreams, including becoming a doctor, from Babi’s example.
“I remember this one lesson really distinctly and it was about bravery and what that meant to him. Because it was scary and I was like ‘I don’t feel very brave,” Dion recalled. “He was like ‘Bravery isn’t not being afraid. It is being afraid and not letting that hold you back.’”
Babi may have passed away, but the strength that he possessed now clearly lives on within Dion.
“His strength has always been one of my biggest motivators,” she said. “He was always so strong and smiling. So now when something comes my way that isn’t exactly pleasant, I’m just like ‘You know you got to get through it.’”