I remember September 10, 2005, like it was yesterday. That was the night that I attended PETA’s 25th Anniversary Gala, which took place at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California. The event itself was memorable enough, but it was a chance meeting at a restaurant across the street from the event that had an enormous impact on me.

The place wasn’t overly crowded, but there was definitely an established group of people getting together for a few pre-event drinks themselves. Eventually, we started mingling with people and that is when we first met him. I didn’t know who he was, but what I did know was that he had an air about him of charisma and kindness; he had that undefinable characteristic that made him stand out in a crowd. He was very unassuming and a complete gentleman, introduced himself, and welcomed us to join his group for a Margarita.

This man was definitely part of the Hollywood crowd, but he wasn’t, if that makes any sense. Given his credentials, which neither myself nor husband knew at the time, he was by far the biggest name in the room, but he was going to be the last person to tell you that. Or act like it. In fact, when I asked him what he did for a living, he told us he worked with animals. That may have been the biggest understatement I’ve ever heard.

The next morning, it wasn’t the Gala that stuck out so much in my mind, but the gentleman we’d met the night before. I remembered his name, did an internet search, and was astounded by exactly who this Sam Simon was.

He grew up in Beverly Hills and Malibu, graduated from Stanford and hit the ground running. His chosen industry was that of entertainment, and at the tender age of 24, he became the showrunner of Taxi. His resume continued to grow, and it includes the title of co-creator of The Simpsons, the most popular animated show ever. He left the series in 1993, but kept his title as executive producer. His list of credentials in the Entertainment Industry is enormous, but that is not the entirety of this man. While I have tremendous respect and admiration for what he has accomplished professionally, it is his philanthropy that explains that air of charisma and kindness I felt when I first met him.

He is the founder of the Malibu based Sam Simon Foundation, which is “Saving the Lives of Dogs to Enrich the Lives of People” amongst many other things. This Foundation offers Service Dogs for Veterans, a Hearing Dog Program, Pet Visitations and, of course, Dogs for Adoption. I can only imagine how many dogs he has saved and how many people he has helped with these animals. It would be well worth your time to visit the website www.samsimonfoundation.com and click on the Happy Beginnings tab to see this work in action.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He is doing so much for the lives of unwanted animals as well as his fellow human beings that I could write a book on it. Literally. But that is not the purpose of this writing. Hopefully, I’ve made you curious and you’ll visit his website to see and read what The Sam Simon Foundation and this extraordinary man are all about; I guarantee you that  you will be inspired.

This writing is about saying thank you to a man who has done so much for so many animals and so many people. He is currently battling stage-4 colon cancer, and I am sending positive thoughts his way, and I hope you do the same. This man is a living, breathing example of what it means to be a true humanitarian, and he continues to inspire me; his selflessness, generosity and humility are attributes that I am always trying to expand on personally.  My thoughts and prayers are with you, and should we meet again, the next round is on me.

With Love,
Lori Turner

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