Our founder



Starting a not for profit organization has been a dream of mine for years.   After volunteering for Special Olympics for 20 years, it was obvious that I was being led in a new direction of giving.  I have so much to give and am excited to do it more than ever!"

Heather StepHENSON

  1. SAMS WISH has been a WISH for Heather Stephenson for MANY YEARS! You see, Heather Stephenson, Sam McNew, and their families have always looked for ways they could help others. 
  2. It all started in 1993 when Heather McNew started a Special Olympic program so her brother, Sam, could participate. He was her only athlete that year. They were called the "McNew family delegation". In 1994 they opened the program to more people with disabilities and became Hamilton Heights Special Olympics. In 1999, they grew even more and became Special Olympics Hamilton County. Heather served as the county coordinator as a volunteer until 2012, when she decided it was time to give more time and energy to her family and teaching job.
  3. Today, Heather is married to her husband of 18 years, Derek.  They have 3 children (Turner, Quincy and Stone).  She teaches kids with severe disabilities in grades K-5 for Carmel Clay Schools.  In addition to volunteering for Special Olympics for countless hours and being a teacher for Carmel Clay Schools, Heather has won some awards including:  The Ryan White Young Hero and Heroine Award (1991); Indiana Special Olympics Area 8 Coach of the Year (1997); Youthlinks Indiana/Indiana Sports Corporation Chairmans' Award (2001); Indianapolis Colts Community Quarterback Award (2001); Fishers Junior High, Teacher of The Year (2002); WRTV Leadership Award (2002); The Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University, Unsung Hero Award (2003); St. Francis Hospital, Spirit of Women Award (2004); White River Sertoma Club, Service to Mankind Award (2004); Special Olympics Indiana -Hamilton County, Volunteer of The Year (2008 & 2012); Special Olympics Indiana - Area 8, Volunteer of The Year (2008 & 2013); and Carmel, Indiana Mom of the Year (2011).
  4. Heather is happy with the sporting opportunities that are being offered to people with disabilities in her state, because of Special Olympics.   However, she feels that it is time to give again and knows she is being led in a different direction.  She hopes that starting SAMS WISH will open many doors for not only Sam, but MANY people with disabilities and those in need.