USF graduate fulfills a mission, seeks a miracle

- Sam Bridgman is 25-years-old and uses a wheelchair to get around. He's seeking a miracle, but he's taking big steps in life in the meantime.

The Seattle native made Tampa home while he worked toward his master's degree at USF, and now that he's graduating, he's staying to fulfill his dream of working in professional sports.

"When I first brought Sam here, I'm thinking I'm going to do something nice for a guy who needs something nice to happen to him, and I totally missed the boat. He has changed everybody's life here," Professor Bill Sutton, who heads the USF Sport and Entertainment Management program, said.

On this day, Sam picks up his cap and gown at the bookstore after he's left his legacy among fellow students who've been inspired.

"When I was a little kid, just like any kid, I wanted to be a professional athlete," Bridgman said.

But at 15 he was diagnosed with Freidreich's Ataxia, a disease that confined him to a wheelchair and, unless a cure is found, will eventually take his life, but he doesn't  stop.

"We're working hard with research to try to fund a treatment and cure," smiles Sam who's slogan is "Seeking a Miracle."

In 2013, Sam walked across the stage with the help of his trainers when he earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Portland. He hopes to do it again at USF this weekend as he earns an MBA and a masters degree in Sport and Entertainment Management.

The next chapter in Sam's journey is a full-time job with the Tampa Bay Lightning where he worked part-time after an internship.

"I'm just looking forward to being full time and adding value to the organization and making the best of the opportunity they're giving me," says Sam. "I'm really fortunate to have such great people surrounding me." 

Many of them say they're the fortunate ones being along on the journey as Sam seeks a miracle.

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