Tag Archives: Sam Bender

“Andrew’s Army”: Video Documents A Life Well Lived

From the time he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma — a very rare childhood cancer — at age 5, until his death 15 years later, Andrew Accardi battled hard.

He was a valued member of the Staples High School golf team. He vowed to walk across the stage on Graduation Day, 2011 — and did. He amassed a legion of friends and admirers, with his big heart and even bigger spirit.

Andrew Accardi

Andrew died on October 31, 2013. His friends — in Westport and at Villanova University, where he was a finance and marketing major — and family members, who called themselves “Andrew’s Army,” had already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for neuroblastoma research.

In the 6 years since, they’ve done even more.

The latest: On Saturday, October 26 (6:30 p.m., Town Hall), there’s a special screening of a documentary, “Andrew’s Army.” A reception at Tavern on Main follows.

It was a labor of love by Sam Bender, a longtime classmate and friend. The talented filmmaker created it as his senior thesis at Emerson College. (At Staples, he earned renown as the first videographer for the boys soccer team.)

Sam Bender (left) and Andrew Accardi, in high school.

The 30-minute film touches on the personal and private parts of Andrew’s life. He kept quiet about his health struggles. He was adamant about being treated “normally” by his peers.

Andrew never asked for sympathy or preferential treatment; he only wanted to live his life to the fullest. The documentary shows how hard his fight was — and how hard he fought.

Sam interviewed Andrew’s family, Westport and college friends, the Villanova president, and doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia who treated him so long and loved him so much.

It’s an inspiring story. Andrew’s Army marches on!

(Click here for tickets to the October 26 film screening at Town Hall, and reception at Tavern on Main. All proceeds go to neuroblastoma research at Children’s Hospital. You can also donate on Venmo: @andrewsarmy.)