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Sammy Skobel died in his sleep, at the family home in Mt. Prospect on June 9. He was the husband of Acrivie; brother of Vera and Julia (deceased); father of Sam Jr. and Stephen; father-in-law of Jan, Andrea, and Vicki; and grandfather of Aaron, Alexandra, Austin, Dexter, and Finn. Sammy was left legally blind by scarlet fever at age 5. Despite this, he skated in the Roller Derby for over 20 years. He was voted Most Valuable Player multiple times, and set a world speed record on the banked track. After retiring he opened Sammy Skobel's Hot Dogs Plus at 34 S. Main Street in Mt. Prospect. His restaurant provided first jobs to dozens of high school students. This experience exposed these young people to Sammy's belief in the power of a positive attitude. He taught them that their hard work and attitudes were the primary determinants in helping them achieve their personal life-goals. Sammy spoke to local schools, empowering young people and spreading his belief that the key to success was believing in one's dreams, taking action to achieve them, and never giving up. In 1970 Sammy founded the American Blind Skiing Foundation (ABSF) with wife Acrivie and fellow Mt. Prospect residents: Louie Velasco, Ken Hamann, and Mark Edwards. The ABSF has helped hundreds of blind skiers learn independence and a few to win medals in the Disabled Olympics. The ABSF is still helping the visually impaired learn to ski and gain self-confidence today. For all of his accomplishments, Sammy will be best remembered for his sense of fun, and upbeat spirit. He delighted everyone with humorous stories of his adventures living life to the fullest, refusing to accept limitations put on him because of his visual problems. Friends are invited to celebrate Sammy's life Saturday June 16 from Noon-3pm at Mt. Prospect's Brick City Tavern at 34 S. Main Street--the same address of the original Sammy Skobel's Hot Dogs Plus. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the ABSF (www.absf.org) or the Mt. Prospect Historical Society (www.mtphist.org).
Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on June 12, 2018
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