A Childhood Vow Fulfilled
July 14, 2022
When Sam Frommer of Bergenfield was a young boy, he toured Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital with Michael B. Harris, M.D., close family friend and director of the Cure and Beyond Survivorship Program, after learning about the Tomorrow’s Children Fund, an organization that helps children with cancer and serious blood disorders. Although he enjoyed his visit, he recalled seeing one particular item that bothered him. In the lobby area, there was a large check from New York Rangers great Mark Messier. A true New Jersey Devils fan at heart, Sam vowed that one day, when he too was in the National Hockey League (NHL), he would give back to support Dr. Harris’ critical work.
Years later, Sam and his family found themselves at Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center when his father, Ari, needed care after a tragic accident. “Ari had been in a coma for about four months,” says Ruth Frommer, Sam’s mother and Ari’s wife. “From the first day, he was a comatose patient. The parking attendants, front desk receptionists, nurses and doctors were all so incredible to my family and me. Whatever we needed, they were there for us.”
Although Sam’s life brought him down another path - one that didn’t include the NHL - he never forgot his promise. After Ari passed away, Ruth and her family wanted to do something significant to honor Ari’s legacy, but also pay tribute to the incredible care he received. Sam, remembering his promise, along with his family, decided to give a gift in honor of Dr. Harris. During Ari’s care, Dr. Harris shepherded the family through everything. “He acted as a liaison, moving things along, giving updates… you name it, he did it for us,” says Sam. “He was amazing. He was taking care of his patients at the Children’s Cancer Institute, but also making sure my family was okay on the other side of the hospital. We felt so loved.”
Over the years, Sam organized and participated in numerous hockey tournaments and golf outings where he made sure the proceeds would benefit Dr. Harris' work. Today, the Ari Frommer Memorial Tournament is an annual mini golf event that continues to raise funds for important health care initiatives, including Dr. Harris' work with Hackensack Meridian Children's Health. The Frommer family’s initial gifts have helped subsidize a social worker for families who have children with severe illnesses. They recently made another gift in honor of Dr. Harris - a gift they know will continue to help patients and their families.
“It is so important for our family to give back, show our gratitude and be an example for other families,” says Ruth. “When you are treated well by a leading health care institution, you must show your thanks. Dr. Harris and so many team members showed such warmth and compassion to Ari and my family. We went through so many challenges during Ari’s accident, but it is what you make from those challenges that bring you joy. Supporting vital causes for the benefit of other families and honoring the legacy of Dr. Harris brings us such happiness.”
We thank Sam, Ruth and the Frommer family for their extraordinary and selfless gifts that support patients through Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health.
Next Steps and Resources
42-Year-old Mother of Three Fights Colorectal Cancer
Tatiana Gonzalez was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer at age 39. Comprehensive treatment at Hackensack University Medical Center is helping her achieve remission.
New Jersey Pediatric Surgeons Think Outside the Box to Avoid Colostomy for 13-year-old
While 13-year-old Niam was vacationing in New York, doctors found a cyst fused to his intestinal wall. Innovative surgery allowed him to return home healthy.
17-Year-Old Benefits From Tackle Kids Cancer Initiative After Leukemia Treatment
17-year-old Erik Viscito and his family benefit from many corporate partners and donors that generously donate to Tackle Kids Cancer, a philanthropic initiative of Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation that raises money for pediatric cancer research and patient care programs at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health Children’s Cancer Institute.