Sammy Basso, an 18-year-old young man from Italy, has always wanted to travel through America on historic Route 66. As part of this dream, Basso will be visiting Pontiac on September 15. For Basso, this dream is more challenging than it would be for most. Sammy is, in all likelihood, the oldest man on the earth who is suffering from a disease that causes premature aging. Although there is no cure for the affliction, generally known as Progeria, this rare genetic disorder typically results in death by the middle teens. Sammy’s case is rare because he has successfully reached his late teens.
Sammy’s trip to the United States is being filmed by a crew from Stand By Me Srl, an Italian production company based in Rome, in partnership with National Geographic Channel, and his entourage will include both of his parents, and his best friend, Riccardo Zanolli. This is a life journey for Sammy and a way for those who meet him to look at life from an unusual perspective. Wherever Sammy goes, he brings out contrasting emotions: curiosity, awareness, interest, empathy, awkwardness, astonishment and most of all great affection. Sammy is aware that he represents a great contradiction but he is unperturbed. He does not sit back disinterested in the world; instead he confronts himself with this reality and never stops seeking to learn and to satisfy his inquisitiveness.”Summer of Sammy” being prepared by Stand By Me and the National Geographic Channel, will capture his abiding exuberance, deep interest in the “Mother Road,” and his insatiable curiosity about America - its places and people.
Sammy’s journey will begin in Chicago at the start of Route 66, and move in stages towards California and the end of his expedition across America. The film documenting his trip will be divided into six episodes. Basso and the film crew will arrive in Pontiac on September 15th. The Vermillion Players will present a special performance for Sammy of their musical revue, On the Road Again: Mother Road, That Is, on Monday, September 15th at the Chautauqua Park Pavilion. Prior to the performance at Chautauqua Park, Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell will present the “Key to the City” and proclaim September 15th as Sammy Basso Day. The special presentation will begin at 8:00 PM and the public is invited to join us in celebrating Sammy and his long-awaited Route 66 Road Trip.
For more information on Sammy Basso’s Route 66 adventure, contact Ellie Alexander at the Pontiac Tourism Office(815) 844-5847.”