Introducing the Lil’ Sam Joy Fund, created in memory of Samuel P. Baker II, better known as Lil’ Sam. Lil’ Sam was diagnosed early in life with Down syndrome. During his 15 years of life, Lil’ Sam was blessed and fortunate to experience many things, including access to the resources necessary for daily living. His family established this Fund at the DeKalb County Community Foundation in order to continue this legacy of kindness, access, acceptance, and teaching.
Samuel and Karen Baker are long-time residents of DeKalb and proud alumni of Northern Illinois University. After graduation, they chose to remain in DeKalb to stay close to immediate family, church, educational offerings, and because of the close knit community they grew to love and appreciate. The Bakers have three children; Lauren, Sinclaire, and Samuel.
Lil’ Sam was born on June 12, 2001 and was diagnosed with Down syndrome two years later. His favorite hobbies included spending time with family and watching his favorite television shows. He loved going to school and interacting with his teachers, but what he loved even more than that was the NIU Huskie football team. Lil’ Sam had a seat on the first row on the 50-yard line. He would sit through the cold, rain, and snow to hear those favorite words, “and that’s another Huskie…first down”.
Early on, the Bakers thought of relocating to a bigger city that could presumably offer “better” services for Lil’ Sam. Upon completion of extensive research and assistance, the Bakers were convinced that remaining in DeKalb would be the best decision. They joined with other special needs families in the area and were afforded the opportunity to interact with a broad spectrum of resources. Part of the resources necessary to assist him in daily life came from school and the practitioners who realized the Bakers were raising a young man, not a child with Down syndrome.
Lil’ Sam passed away unexpectedly in May of 2016. With a desire to keep his memory alive, the Bakers created the Lil’ Sam Joy Fund to inspire and help others with special needs.
“Our hope is to make sure Samuel P. Baker II is never forgotten and that his spirit of love, happiness, and kindness is experienced through this gift,” said his mom Karen. “We miss him terribly. However, we are proud to have taken this step to ensure his legacy is never forgotten.”
At the Community Foundation, we are honored that the Bakers choose to establish a donor advised fund in memory of Lil’ Sam. Donations to any fund at the Foundation, including the Lil’ Sam Joy Fund, can be made online at dekalbccf.org/donate or by mail to the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 475 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore, IL 60178. For questions or additional information on funds, please contact Executive Director Dan Templin at 815-748-5383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.