Staff members at the University Assessment and Testing (UAT) department of Oklahoma State University proctor tests on a regular basis. This summer, they administered a special testing session for Teach for America, an organization that prepares recent college graduates to teach in under-served rural and urban schools. But this test was special for more than one reason.
The department chose to “Test for a Cause” and donate all proctoring fees to a charity, specifically to the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF) in memory of Samantha Penn.
Samantha, daughter of Jeremy and Sara Penn, was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease (SCID). In April 2011, at just 18 months old, she passed away.
Jeremy, the Director of UAT, explains, “I told the staff about the important work of IDF and the SCID Initiative, and immediately they agreed that IDF and the SCID Initiative would be our cause.”
At the start of the testing session, staff members explained to the more than 100 examinees about the donation and how it would help those with primary immunodeficiency diseases, like Samantha. In her memory, UAT staff donated $736.89 to IDF.
“Testing for a Cause really changed the testing and proctoring experience knowing that this fall the examinees would be teaching in under-served communities and that the testing fees would go to support the IDF and the SCID Initiative,” says Jeremy.
Samantha certainly lives on in her family and loved ones. Jeremy and Sara are IDF Volunteers, working to promote SCID awareness and raise funds for IDF. They feel it is an important cause and encourage others to get involved.
“Growing up in the Midwest, I was taught to be humble and not draw lots of attention to myself,” says Jeremy, “Remembering how courageously Samantha faced her many treatments and procedures in the hospital emboldens me to step out of my comfort zone and feel like it is okay to be the center of attention, remembering too that I am speaking for her since she is no longer able.”
The Penns recently welcomed a new addition to their family, baby Isaac, born August 21. He was screened for SCID and tested negative. Mom and dad happily report that Isaac is doing great, growing more and more each day.
Jeremy says, “We will enjoy telling him about his big sister.”
Thanks to the Penn Family for sharing their story and working on behalf of IDF! Special thanks to the UAT staff members for their generosity!
Below are more photos of Samantha…