“I loved it! So uplifting! Truly inspiring!” ~Suzanne McCormick, US President, United Way Worldwide
Because of Sam is an uplifting, independent documentary film about a young man who was born with Down syndrome named Sam Piazza who beat the odds, is an advocate for people with disabilities, and an inspiration to all who know him.
Suzanne McCormick, US President, United Way Worldwide, said, “I loved it! So uplifting! Truly inspiring!”
Sam’s career as an advocate for people with disabilities began as a young child in Tampa when he was selected to serve as a United Way Brand Ambassador, appearing on the organization’s promotional materials and speaking to large groups.
Twenty-five years later at 30 years old, Sam continues blazing trails as an advocate for those who need a voice.
Because of Sam transforms how the world views people with disabilities and inspires ALL people to pursue their dreams.
Because of Sam sold out Tampa Theatre at its “First Look” Screening at Tampa Theatre in 2019, and won the Tampa Downtown Partnership’s Urban Excellence People’s Choice Award.
In 2009, Sam caught the eye of filmmaker and fellow Tampa native, Renee Warmack, who was inspired by a news article she read that told how Sam was born with Down syndrome, crowned Homecoming King at his high school, had a black belt in karate, participated in the ROTC, was the basketball team manager, and active in the Best Buddies program. She contacted the reporter in order to locate Sam’s family, met with Sam’s Mother Ruth Piazza, and began working on the film. Sadly, there was no money to produce the film back then, so Renee put it on the shelf… but she never forgot about Sam. When she retired from her 20-year career in government in 2017, Renee reconnected with Sam and his family; and launched a fundraising campaign. She managed to make the movie on a shoe string budget and appreciates all who contributed.
The heartwarming 50-minute film showcases Sam’s inspirational journey from birth to the present day, highlighting his job at a PDQ restaurant where he has worked for 8 years. Sam is a positive influence in the lives of many who tell in the film that ‘because of Sam’ their lives have been made better.
Today, Sam continues his work at PDQ, serves on the Community Outreach Team for Gigi’s Playhouse (a Down Syndrome Achievement Center), and is an Ambassador for Best Buddies International.
Producer | Director | Writer
Tampa native, Renee Warmack, MPA, is a Producer, Speaker, and Coach who grew up in a blue-collar family and is the youngest of three girls. At an early age, she knew that earning an athletic scholarship was the only way she could afford college. She worked hard to excel as a multi-sport, high school athlete and ultimately earned a tennis scholarship at the University of South Florida (USF).
Warmack earned her BA degree in Creative Writing and a Master’s degree in Public Administration at USF.
In 2019, she produced, directed and wrote Because of Sam that chronicles the inspirational journey of Sam Piazza, a young man with Down syndrome who won Homecoming King and is an advocate for people with disabilities. The movie is transforming how the world views people with disabilities. Viewing options for Because of Sam are at: WatchBecauseofSam.com
In 2008, Warmack produced, directed and wrote “A Community with a Dream: The Founding of the Children’s Board” (CBHC) a documentary that commemorates the 20th anniversary of a special taxing district in Tampa dedicated to helping kids succeed. The film describes the touching, grassroots effort that led to the creation of the CBHC. The movie premiered on government television and was widely embraced by the community.
Warmack’s first film, “Ten at the Top in Tampa Bay,” chronicles the careers of top female government leaders and shares their firsthand accounts of how they broke the glass ceiling. She produced, directed and wrote the documentary to celebrate an unprecedented time in Tampa history where 10 women led (at the same time) government institutions. The movie premiered on PBS (WEDU) in 2007, aired on government channels, and was featured in film festivals, to include the Gasparilla International Film Festival.
Warmack retired in 2017 from a 20-year government career where she worked in human rights advocacy, public relations and program administration. Her inspirational movies, engaging events, and impactful coaching program are game-changers that help empower dreamers. Learn more at: ReneeWarmackProductions.com
Movie Setting – Tampa, FL (Hillsborough County)
Sam Piazza was born and raised in Tampa (Hillsborough County), Florida. Setting the film in Sam’s hometown adds charm and authenticity to the story. The city’s diverse population, inclusive communities, and winding Hillsborough River make it a meaningful and attractive backdrop for Sam’s journey. Showcasing the schools Sam attended, Tampa’s cultural landmarks, and the beautiful waterways found in the Sunshine State reveal the character of this major port city. Production of the documentary film Because of Sam puts Sam Piazza’s story on a global stage.