March ambassador family ‘blessed’

Published 9:45 am Friday, May 18, 2012


FRANKLIN—Soon after Sammy Stith was born 23 weeks premature, doctors told his parents he would never walk or eat on his own.

Today, the 9-year-old son of Nellie and Samuel Stith does both and more.

As the Western Hampton Roads Ambassador Family for the March of Dimes this year, the Stiths will participate in the 2 p.m. Sunday, May 20, fundraising walk supporting birth defects, premature births and infant deaths.

Registration for the five-mile walk begins at 1 p.m. at Barrett’s Landing in Franklin.

Sammy was born at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital on Feb. 7, 2003, and stayed for six months at nearby Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

The exact cause for his early birth wasn’t determined.

“I wasn’t strong enough to carry him,” Nellie Stith said. “I had miscarriages before with early water breakage.”

Sammy’s sister, Kimberly Britt-Doles, 27, was also born premature, but without complications.

“(Sammy) was born with lesions and bleeding on one side of his head,” Nellie Stith said. “One time he had chronic lung disease. He had to be on a ventilator for a couple of months. Then he started breathing on his own and eating on his own. He came home with oxygen and a heart monitor.”

He stayed on the monitor for three to four months, and oxygen for a year.

When Sammy was born, Nellie Stith’s mother, Dorothy Britt, was in a nursing home in Norfolk.

“She gave me the courage to go on,” Nellie Stith said. “She would always push me to be with him.

Britt died five days after Sammy went home on Aug. 23.

Currently, Sammy takes medicine for hyperactivity.

“He has a short attention span. Some things he can’t comprehend,” Nellie Stith said. “We’re just figuring out his eyesight is really bad, and he’s got hearing loss in both ears. He can’t hear high-pitched sounds.”

Glasses and hearing aids have since been put in place.

Though prayerful that “nothing else will happen,” Nellie Stith said, “we’re still blessed. We’re managing to get through. He’s making progress, that’s true.”

Sammy is a third-grader at S.P. Morton Elementary School, where he is in the Book Buddy program.

He has earned the Bear rank with the Pack 17 Cub Scouts sponsored by High Street United Methodist Church. His fellow scouts have given him the nickname of “Nugget” because he likes chicken nuggets.

Not only has Sammy learned to ride a bicycle, but also has been fishing. He loves Franklin High School football.

The Stiths belong to Dr. Evelyn Square’s congregation at Scott’s Revival Church, Franklin.

“I trust God in everything I do,” said Nellie Stith. “I take it to him.”