On July 24, 2019, 16-year-old lifeguard Sam Jarmer dove over a wave and hit a sandbar, leaving him paralyzed in the water with a serious spinal injury.
Garth Greer, who rescued Sam, recalled, “At that time, I radioed for assistance. They came down, grabbed Sam behind his head to stabilize his neck. They knew something wasn’t right. At that point, he just kept saying, ‘Thank you very much.’ You have to always be prepared for anything that could happen.”
Sam’s mother, Jessica Jarmer, said, “In the beginning, [Garth] said, ‘Stop calling me the man who saved Sam.’ I said, ‘[I’ll] never stop saying that! You’re the man that saved my son.'”
Sam says, “It’s weird not being able to move a part of your body when you could see it. And you’re telling it to move but you can’t move it.” Now, he is fighting to get his swimming legs back with the support from his community.
Two days after the accident, about 450 members of the St. Rose Parish in Belmar and neighboring St. Teresa’s churcheh in Bradley Beach packed the church pews to pray for Sam’s healing. A social media presence was launched, naming him “SAMvincible.” Celebrities such as Southside Johnny have responded and given Sam video shout-outs.
Sam was released from the hospital right before Thanksgiving. It’s been months of rehabilitation, but they are celebrating every little movement, even if it’s the pinky toe. “When my accident initially happened, I couldn’t move anything from my neck down. And now, I can move my arm,” he brags.
Sam’s family believes in the power of prayer now more than ever. Jessica says, “With love and prayers, great things can happen. So I believe Sam is going to walk again. I just feel like this is a bump in the road — I don’t feel that this is his forever. It’s given us more perspective on things: what’s important; what’s not important.”
Molly, Sam’s sister, agrees: “Its amazing to see how he recovers, and I know he’s going to be up and walking soon.”
On Sunday, Janaury 26 from 2 – 6PM, there will be a Beatles Day tribute fundraising benefit for the Samvincible Foundation at Leggetts SandBar, 217 1st Ave, in Manasquan NJ. Along with live music from the members of The Mike Dalton Band, Undisputed, Moondoggie, and The Jenny Pilots, among others, a buffet will be provided. Tickets are $20 at the door.