WYOMING, Ohio — One special dessert at Cowboy Cones in Wyoming doesn’t last long – but the time you have with it is special and unique, just like its namesake.
The Sami Soft Serve Dole Lime is a sweet treat named after a sweetheart.
Sami Colpean Al-Gharaibeh was born on May 6, 2020, and his parents, Faris and Michelle, did what loving guardians do: They showed their boy the world. They found safe, distanced ways to do that during a worldwide pandemic.
“He thought I was the funniest person in existence, which is (a) questionable opinion, but I’m okay with it,” Sami’s father, Faris Al-Gharaibeh, said.
They turned trips to the park, zoo adventures and the ice cream social time on Wyoming’s Village Green into lasting photo and video memories that are extra special now because of a life well-lived.
“He was just so happy,” Sami’s mother, Michelle Colpean, said. “He was such a light. He really was.”
Sami died four months shy of his first birthday. There is currently no medical explanation for his passing.
The couple keep his smile close to their hearts.
“Our necklaces say, ‘Some people only dream of angels. I held one in my hands,” Colpean said.
As they work through the tragedy of their loss, the couple said they try to focus instead on the blessing they had for eight months – and Sami’s legacy.
“Making sure he continues to spread joy and happiness in the world since he was such a happy guy is important to us,” Colpean said.
Sami’s parents gifted three Wyoming businesses that the family had enjoyed with $100 to share among their customers. After that came a cycle of kindness the couple could only have hoped would blossom in Sami's name.
“People came to us as they came to the window to find an order paid for, (and) they paid for the next person,” Cowboy Cones general manager Wendy Mentrup said. “We feel happiness together. We feel pain together. We celebrate life together.”
A picture of Sami hangs in Cowboy Cones, to share his story with every customer. The ice cream shop named their soft-serve after Sami – a gesture from another parent who lost a child.
“We’re really lucky to be in a community that’s carried us,” Colpean said. “More than we could ever expect.”
Recently, a stranger saw Sami’s picture on her necklace and made the connection.
“’Oh, my friend just had your son’s ice cream last week. She said it was so good. I can’t wait to get a cone,’” Colpean said, recounting the conversation. “I had no idea who it was, but it was so nice to know people are still thinking of him.”
On his birthday, Sami’s parents made cards with the hashtag “shine on Sami” – which said the person who got the card had been chosen for a random act of kindness in his honor, and encouraged them to pass the favor on.
A memorial fund was started in Sami’s name to put a garden in at Wyoming’s Village Green. It’s already raised close to $50,000. The #ShineonSami cards have made their way around the world and Sami’s parents said the stories they see from people who post with that hashtag continue to bring them so much joy.