The Live Like Sam foundation is matching any donation up to $5,000 to help the community during this time period

To honor the memory of Sam Jackenthal, who passed away in 2015 at 16 years old, a plaque sits on a tree above his memorial bench at the top of Rob's Trail in Park City. Following his passing, his dad Ron and sister Skylar, created the Live Like Same foundation to honor his way of life and help aid the community that's given them so much.
Courtesy of Ron Jackenthal

Sam Jackenthal may have passed four years ago, but his spirit lives on stronger than ever.

When the 16-year-old freestyle skier from Park City died in a training accident in 2015, his family made it their mission to make sure that his fun-loving, go-big-or-go-home approach to life survived by establishing the Live Like Sam Foundation last February.

It was not only to honor Sam’s legacy, but to honor his love of Park City and the community that helped shape him into the young man he was.

“Sam was such a bright light in not only our lives, but the lives of nearly everyone he came into contact with,” said Ron Jackenthal, Sam’s father. “We hope that the inspiration he gave others in life can continue to make such a positive impact … And this community had so much to do with why he was who he was and it was a place that he loved to be more than anywhere in the world.”

Live Like Sam is based on the core principles of “Community, Athletics, Responsibility and Education” — principles that helped guide Sam’s life. With that in mind, Ron and his daughter, Skylar, felt it was their job to help give back to the community during this rough time period by starting a fundraiser to help out the same community that’s given them so much.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Summit County issued a stay-at-home order, which begins on Friday, to slow the spread of the virus. With most of the county now shutdown, that leaves many residents of the county struggling.

“One of the things I felt was important is that we focused on community, so that kind of got me thinking what we can do to help with what’s happening right now,” Ron said. “Things in the community are turned upside down right now so anyway we can help, we feel like it’s our duty to do so. This community has given so much to us, it’s our responsibility to push forward and give back.”

The Jackenthal family has decided to match any donation made to Live Like Sam through the end of March up to $5,000. They will then donate all of the proceeds to the Park City Community Foundation’s Community Response Fund and the Christian Center of Park City’s Basic Needs Assistance Fund — two foundations that Ron has worked with previously.

“We’ve chosen two funds to give the donations to because both of them seem to be best set up to help the most number of people for their greatest basic needs,” Ron said. “Being a part of the community, we have a responsibility to help each other when we can. We have to instill good character and values in our youth and both of these foundations have worked hard to do that.”

It is Ron’s belief that the Park City community is unlike any other, attracting individuals with all sorts of backgrounds and uniting them as one.

After being a resident for 18 years, there are many moments that stick out to him about why this community is so special, but there’s a certain time period that stands above the rest — in the month Sam was in the hospital and the week after he passed.

“I’ve never experienced anything more beautiful than when Park City showed up for my family. … It’s unfathomable how people took over our lives for us and were so selfless in doing so,” Ron said. “When we got back after Sam passed, 1,300 people showed for his public memorial at Utah Olympic Park. … It was an experience that we’ll never forget and really helped us come up with the idea of our foundation.”

While he understands that the goal of $10,000 isn’t a ton of money to go around and help everyone who needs it, he has his eyes set on a much larger goal. Physically helping out is no longer a realistic option so Ron believes this is the best that can be done, yet would love more for the community.

“It’s not about bringing this money to us for our foundation. … It’s about trying to leverage our influence to rally the community to get creative and help out,” Ron said. “I would say is that we are trying to lead by example and that maybe we’ll get lucky and some of the other much larger organizations will get involved and donate themselves. We are living in a time where we are limited in what we can do, but we can still help through our relationships.”

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