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Foundation recognizes 13-year-old La Grange donor

Summary: The La Grange Memorial Hospital Foundation recognizes 13-year-old Samantha Tracy of La Grange for her generous gifts over the years. Photo of Samantha attached. Additional photos available upon request.

La Grange – Thirteen-year-old Samantha Tracy of La Grange longs to be on the stage: acting, singing, dancing or cooking. It’s no wonder that her three “idols” are Alton Brown and Giada De Laurentiis, both Food Network chefs, and Chris Colfer, the young actor who portrays Kurt Hummel on the television hit series “Glee.” If her interests seem a bit out of the ordinary, it’s because Samantha is not your typical teen. Her most outstanding trait may well be her entrepreneurial spirit combined with her deep compassion for others.


The seventh-grader at Gurrie Middle School became the La Grange Memorial Hospital Foundation’s youngest benefactor at the age of nine when she opened her backyard Samantha’s Sunnyside Café in 2007. It was her way of combining her love of cooking with her passion for giving. Her efforts resulted in proceeds and related contributions that totaled more than $1,400. In 2010, Samantha requested that gifts for her 13th birthday also benefit the hospital. Her thoughtfulness inspired nearly $600 in gifts made in her name.


Samantha was honored March 24 at the Foundation’s President’s Circle event. The Foundation supports Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital through philanthropy.


“Because I know I have many privileges, I wanted to give back to others who have real needs,” Samantha said. “My fundraising activities have taught me that it’s better to give than to take. I don’t feel good unless I give to those in need. It makes me happy.”


Samantha’s parents Beth and Keith Tracy, who met at Lyons Township High School, can’t say exactly where Samantha’s spirit of giving originated, but they are proud and happy about her accomplishments.


“Samantha is a natural – it comes from within,” Beth Tracy said. “We encourage her and try not to get involved. We’re there to support her, but it’s up to her to follow through on her plans.”


Samantha’s fundraising endeavors have involved food. After she won the Burr Ridge Park District’s Iron Chef Award for her chicken salad, she opened the Sunnyside Café. At her mother’s suggestion, she set up an ice cream stand at age 10 and raised money for a friend who has leukemia. After her grandfather died of cancer two years ago, she whipped up and sold “memory muffins” and donated the proceeds to a foundation that supports cancer treatment in Texas.


She hopes to build on this tradition with Catering for A Cause. She has done a few catering jobs and hopes to find work this summer in order to raise more money for the foundation.


“Samantha is a shining example of a young person who is dedicated to her community,” said Brett Skeen, executive director of the La Grange Memorial Hospital Foundation. “Perhaps her actions will inspire other young people; I know she has inspired me.”


Learning about her three idols reveals more about her character and ambitions. She likes food host Alton Brown for his scholarly approach to cooking (“I’m blown away by how much information he gives out in 30 minutes”) and she admires Giada De Laurentiis for how much the native of Italy has achieved in winning an Emmy. Samantha says she is inspired by actor Chris Colfer because he has achieved success despite being bullied. Plus, his sister has severe epilepsy and he knows how families can be affected by illness.


As for the future, Samantha says, “I can see myself as a host on the Food Network, and I can see myself on the stage. I love the self expression of the arts. I love singing, dancing, even improv comedy.”


Whatever her path, Samantha will no doubt continue to find unique ways to support others.



Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit


Media contact: Lisa Parro, senior public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health,; 630-312-7508