Sam Jarmer holds the neck brace that was removed in October by his neurosurgeon, Dr. Lawrence B. Daniels. “There’s a lot of support for how I’m doing,” Jarmer says. Courtesy photos
Sam Jarmer holds the neck brace that was removed in October by his neurosurgeon, Dr. Lawrence B. Daniels. “There’s a lot of support for how I’m doing,” Jarmer says. Courtesy photos
" It’s a natural reaction to come together, to support Sam’s family. "

“Stay positive. Be patient. Trust God and believe. Believe that you will heal and know that you are never alone.”

That’s the advice Sam Jarmer has for teens his own age who are going through struggles. Those words came Oct. 16, a milestone day for the 16-year-old junior in Belmar’s St. Rose High School.

Early that morning, the neck brace he has worn since suffering a serious spinal injury was removed by Dr. Lawrence B. Daniels, the neurosurgeon whose skill got him through those first critical days after he was injured while on duty as a lifeguard July 24 in Ocean Grove.

The accident fractured the sixth cervical vertebra in Sam’s spine, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to keep his head up. In the 13 weeks since the injury, Sam has made astonishing progress, regaining the ability to sit up and use his arms enough to move himself around on a mat during therapy, said his mother, Jessica Jarmer.

Now, with the brace off, “He can do more in therapy. It restricted a lot of moves that all lead with the head,” she said. “This changes therapy tremendously. … It’s such a powerful move, the fact that the bone is healed and the neck seems stable. That leaves us now to worry over the nerves and muscles coming back.”

Added Sam, “There’s a lot of support for how I’m doing – that I’m on the right path and positive [about] having a good recovery and walking again and returning to lifeguarding,” he said as he rested from the busy day that had included a round trip from Children’s Specialized Hospital, New Brunswick, to Spring Lake by ambulance for the removal of the neck brace and a therapy session upon his return.

Judging from the overwhelming response since the accident, any worries about what lies ahead will be will be met with the ongoing prayer and support from the parish and school communities as well as the community at-large.

Prayer Community

Throughout Sam’s quest for recovery, his family – mother, father, Scott, brother, Michael, 19, and sister, Molly, 11, a sixth-grader in St. Rose School, Belmar – have been a constant support. So have the students and staff of St. Rose High School and grade school, the parish communities of St. Rose and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Bradley Beach, where the family are parishioners, and the community at-large.

Proof of that can be found on the SAMvincible Facebook page, which details Sam’s prayerful determination to reclaim his abilities. Those checking in regularly range from his fellow St. Rose High School classmates, friends and neighbors to sports celebrities who message their encouragement. The latter have included Canadian ice hockey star Wayne Gretzky and Scotty Cranmer, a Jackson Memorial High School graduate and BMX star who is one of Sam’s sports idols.

Cranmer, who learned to walk and ride again after a head-first fall from his bike, visited Sam in the hospital to show that recovery is possible, said Cranmer’s mother, Donna, a member of St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson.

Sam’s junior classmates have been participating in an ongoing SAMvincible T-shirt fundraiser to benefit the family. Hundreds have already been sold at $15 each, and there are 250 more on order. They also work in teams to help arrange food for the family, visit Sam in the hospital or text and send “shout-outs” over the St. Rose website.

Most of all, they pray.

“I feel like St. Rose is a family. When a family gets hurt, you want to come together,” St. Rose junior Abigail Dyhr said.

Fellow junior Isabelle Grober agreed. “It’s a natural reaction to come together, to support Sam’s family.”

Juniors Cooper Williams and Isabella Conforti said they responded with prayer from the very beginning.

“Honestly, from this situation, I learned the power of prayer,” Williams said.

Added Grober, “As soon as we found out, we prayed as a family. We pray for him every night.”