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Samjam offers new format, new venue

Sam Oswald, 38, of Carlinville has struggled with neurofibromatosis (NF) since age four. The annual SamJam music events were created in his honor to benefit NF research and support services.


Enquirer~Democrat Contributor

SamJam’s BBQ & Boogie is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18 at Rustic Venues, located at 24720 North Standard City Road in rural Girard. The date, and locale, both differ from the previous eight SamJam events, which were held at the Macoupin County Fairgrounds in either late Aug. or Sept.

The event was created in 2014 to honor Sam Oswald, a 38-year-old Carlinville resident who has endured years of struggle with neurofibromatosis (NF), which affects one in every 2,500 worldwide. NF is most often noticed in childhood or early adulthood, and appears equally across sexes, races, and ethnic groups.

Since he was diagnosed with NF at age four, Sam has battled spinal fusion, two brain tumors, shunt revisions, bone grafting on both legs, knee surgery, dermal tumor removal, and eye surgery.

“This is a new format for SamJam,” said Peter Oswald, the event organizer and Sam’s father. “We thought people would enjoy an evening indoors, with good food and music to support our fund-raising efforts.” It’s a departure from the outdoor concerts of the past, which did not include a sit-down dinner.

As with the other SamJam events, all proceeds will benefit NF research and support services. “Since our first SamJam, we’ve always been focused on bringing excellent music entertainment to the area, said Peter Oswald. “But it’s important to remember this is all for supporting NF research and support services for NF patients and their families.”

Sam Oswald continues to fight the effects of NF today. In July 2020, Sam underwent major surgery to remove a tumor in his chest, near his esophagus.

That was followed by another operation in March 2021 to remove a tumor from his thigh, which was a reoccurrence with a bout of cancer from nine years ago. He remains on a schedule of periodic scans to assess any reoccurrence of cancer.

Among the many, wide-ranging effects of NF are scoliosis, which was an early problem in Sam’s case, as well as seizures, motor delays, vision or hearing loss, disfigurement, bone deformities, speech impediments, loss of balance, and lifelong physical pain.

Though less familiar to the general public, more patients suffer from NF than muscular dystrophy, Tay-Sachs disease, and Huntington’s disease combined.

“NF is never easy. It’s something I have to deal with almost every day, and it can be really hard,” said Sam Oswald. “Fortunately, I’ve been very lucky to have successful treatments for my NF symptoms over the years, and a very supportive family. I know that isn’t the case for other NF patients I’ve met.”

In its first eight editions, SamJam has raised nearly $80,000, with the funds going to NF Midwest, Inc., an organization that provides research grants and support services in Illinois and five surrounding states.

This year’s event will feature a BBQ dinner provided by Fat Albert’s BBQ, performances by two bands, a cash bar, and a silent auction. There will also be a drawing for a five-day Caribbean cruise, with each adult ticketholder receiving one entry when they enter the event venue. Additional entries may also be purchased.

Doors open at 5 p.m., with dinner from 5:30-7 p.m. A popular area band, As the Crowe Flies, will perform at 6 p.m., with Sean Canan’s Voodoo Players following at 8 p.m.

Tickets for SamJam’s BBQ & Boogie are $35 for adults and $20 for children under 12. They are available for purchase at CNB Bank & Trust, Crowe Boot & Shoe Co., Main Street Florist, and online at Tables of 10 seats near the stage, with the privilege of getting to the front of the food line, are available for $400.

Everyone is urged to purchase tickets in advance to guarantee dinner and seating. All proceeds will benefit NF research and support services. For more details, sponsor information, or to make donations online, visit or call 217-556-4917.

Samjam4NF, Inc. is a Section 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and any gifts may be tax deductible.