Commissioner’s Blog #13


John Hovanesian, M.D.
Orange County Council Commissioner

“If You Only Had 17 Years, How Would You Choose to Live Your Life?”
January 16, 2014

Last week in New England, a 17-year-old boy named Sam Berns died of a rare disease called Progeria, which causes all the body’s cells to age rapidly. Caused by a genetic mutation occurring in one in eight million newborns, this disease, with no known treatment, claims most lives by age 13. Sam Berns, both of whose parents are doctors, was diagnosed shortly after birth. But however sad it is to lose a young person, Sam Berns’ life should be celebrated. He and his parents knew he would not have long. While they formed a medical foundation to search for a cure for Progeria, they also encouraged young Sam to live his life to the fullest.

And that he did.


Among the many accomplishments of this young scholar, tutor, and musician was the rank of Eagle Scout. In deciding how to spend his limited free time in his short life, Sam chose well. Despite the many years it must have consumed to become an Eagle, Sam surely learned about self-reliance, the virtue of helping, forging deep friendships, and loving God. In doing so, Sam lived life fully.

How many of us squander our time on Earth pursuing false gods? How fine an example did Sam Berns set? The lucky rest of us, whose children will live lives of normal duration, can take a lesson from this exemplary young man. Live every day as if yours are numbered, and however much time we have, we will have lived life fully, like Sam Berns.