Radnor – Not even the morning rain could dampen the enthusiasm of the hundreds of competitors and the more than 10,000 fans Saturday at Radnor High School for the 16th annual KSF Lacrosse Festival.
More than $100,000 was raised at this year’s KSF Festival, the largest one-day high school lacrosse festival in the United States.
Katie Samson, the inspiration for the Festival, which started in 2000, said, “I’m really impressed with how much the [participating] high school lacrosse teams are involved with fund-raising [for the Katie Samson Foundation]. And they go above and beyond what’s asked of them – some of them even do service projects in addition to the fund-raising. It makes lacrosse so much more than the competition aspect.”
The Festival was known as the Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival from 2000 through 2015, and the name was changed this year to the KSF (for Katie Samson Foundation) Lacrosse Festival. Since 2001, the Foundation has raised nearly $2 million for charities benefiting medical research and providing care for people with spinal cord injuries.
“I’m happy about [the name change],” said Samson. “The Festival isn’t all about me; it’s about the [Katie Samson] Foundation.”
A total of 54 high school lacrosse teams play each year at the KSF Lacrosse Festival. There are more applicants than available spots for teams in the tourney.
“Each year, the lacrosse teams [at the Festival] keep telling us, ‘Thanks so much for letting us play this year,’” said Samson.
Samson was a former standout lacrosse player for Radnor High School who helped the Middlebury College squad win the Division III National Championship in 1999. Less than a year later, she suffered a spinal cord injury while sledding and became a quadriplegic.
Several years later, Samson moved to Arizona and earned a master’s degree in art history (she studied the history of photography in graduate school, and her particular field of interest is the 19th Century Victorian era). She is currently Assistant Director of Museum Education at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (her favorite American artist is Winslow Homer).
Samson also competes in wheelchair sports, such as rugby, tennis and cycling, and as a peer mentor for people who have suffered spinal cord injury through Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, encourages her mentees to seek out adaptive sports and therapeutic programs that have had such a positive effect on her life.