It all started with Samantha Trost, her five-year battle against a unique strain of bone cancer, and the selfless, final request that would extend Samantha’s resilient, determined, and compassionate spirit far beyond her own experience, impacting the lives of children and families across the local, Hampton Roads community.
During her sophomore year at First Colonial High School, Samantha Trost was diagnosed with an uncommon type of bone cancer, osteogenic sarcoma, found in her lower leg. She went in and out of remission, fighting courageously until her battle ended in 2009. Across her treatment period, the community rallied for Samantha and her family, raising funds to cover the cost of a prosthetic leg following a necessary above-the-knee amputation— a prosthetic that was not covered by insurance.
This experience reinforced the fact that many children facing life-threatening illnesses have an incredible need for assistive goods and services that are not covered by insurance, and many families lack the financial resources to cover the cost on their own.
Samantha requested that the remaining funds donated by the community be used to help other children like herself, so that they and their families could focus on moments together instead of navigating the stressful process of fundraising to cover the steep cost of specialized equipment.
Today, SMILE, or Samantha Makes It A Little Easier, is a Norfolk-based non-profit organization helmed by Samantha’s sister, Kristen Mantlo, and her parents, Melia and Joseph Trost. The organization provides medical equipment, devices and supplies that are, often, not covered by insurance to children and families impacted by life-threatening illnesses. SMILE also supports various education and empowerment programs that offer additional encouragement to these children and their families. Together, Samantha’s family and various volunteers, partners, and donors across Hampton Roads, work to offer a community of support, and continue Samantha’s mission.
Haynes is a proud supporter of local, Virginia initiatives like SMILE, and encourages community support and awareness of these organizations. The Strelitz family remains actively involved, and was recently humbled and honored to donate specialized furniture and personal assistance to SMILE and to a family in need.
To learn more about SMILE’s current programs, upcoming events, and current initiatives, or to make a donation to the organization, please visit www.smileasier.org.