“A life that touches others goes on forever.”
Barbara Watkins doesn’t know who said it first, but it’s a piece of wisdom she cherishes – it’s emblazoned on Samantha Watkins tombstone, and it was on her mother’s mind Tuesday as Gov. Greg Abbott put his signature to H.B. 684, Sam’s Law.
“That is definitely Sam,” Barbara said, still overwhelmed – with joy, with pride, with thanks – following the bill signing at the state capitol. It’s a tribute to her daughter’s legacy and her epitaph: “That’s why we chose that, for something like this: she touched so many and it continues to live on. It’s beautiful.”
The Kilgore High School student died in December 2016 following a catastrophic epileptic seizure, and advocates have been pushing Sam’s Law with the assistance of local lawmakers.
Clearing both the Texas House and Senate this spring, Sam’s Law aims to bolster care for students with seizure disorders, requiring additional training in seizure recognition and first aid at schools across Texas.
“It requires public school teachers to have the proper training to handle individuals who are having seizures,” according to a legislative release. “In Texas, there are nearly 50,000 students who are afflicted with seizures and this bill will make schools a safer environment for these students by providing teachers and school employees with life saving training.”
Shari Dudo and the Purple Warriors of Texas carried the torch for the legislation as Rep. Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) and Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) filed the relevant legislation. It was passed unanimously in the House in mid-April with a similar 31-0 result in the Senate last month.
With the touch of the governor’s pen Tuesday, it now heads to state codes and, ultimately, campuses.
“It’s just an absolute honor,” Watkins said. “It’s a great feeling to know that something so horrific for me has turned out to be a blessing for so many, that your voices really are heard. It’s pretty powerful.”
She’s still trying to wrap her head around it, even with a copy of the signed bill in hand. The ceremony in the governor’s office was overwhelming, she said, beautiful.
Barbara’s grateful: for the moment and for lasting change on behalf of others.
“It’s true to who Sam was. That was her passion and her calling. It’s an honor to carry that legacy in her name: something that she would have passionately done on her own is something that’s being done in her honor now.”