SAMS WISH was founded by Heather Stephenson and her little brother, Sam McNew in 2014.
However, their philanthropy started back in 1993. Heather started a Special Olympic program so her brother, Sam, could participate. He was her only athlete that year. They were called the "McNew family delegation". In 1994 they opened the program to more people with disabilities and became Hamilton Heights Special Olympics. In 1999, they grew even more and became Special Olympics Hamilton County. Heather served as the county coordinator as a volunteer for almost 20 years. In 2012, she decided it was time to give more time and energy to her family and teaching job and passed the torch to a new coordinator. That did not last long though. Heather and Sam knew they were being led in a different direction and they decided to start their own not for profit and they called it Sam's Wish. Why Sam's Wish? Sam has ALWAYS wished for the world to be a better place and Heather has lived her life trying to make all of Sam's wishes come true.
Today, Heather is married to her husband of 26 years, Derek. They have 3 children (Turner, Quincy and Stone). Heather has also become Sam's legal guardian and Sam lives with Heather and her family. She teaches special education for Carmel Clay Schools for 25 years. In addition to running Sam's Wish and being a teacher for Carmel Clay Schools, Heather has won some awards including: The Ryan White Young Hero and Heroine Award (1991); Indiana Special Olympics Area 8 Coach of the Year (1997); Youthlinks Indiana/Indiana Sports Corporation Chairmans' Award (2001); Indianapolis Colts Community Quarterback Award (2001); Fishers Junior High, Teacher of The Year (2002); WRTV Leadership Award (2002); The Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University, Unsung Hero Award (2003); St. Francis Hospital, Spirit of Women Award (2004); White River Sertoma Club, Service to Mankind Award (2004); Special Olympics Indiana -Hamilton County, Volunteer of The Year (2008 & 2012); Special Olympics Indiana - Area 8, Volunteer of The Year (2008 & 2013); and Carmel, Indiana Mom of the Year (2011).
Sam has also won many awards including Special Olympics Indiana Athlete of the Year.