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FIRST, I WANT TO THANK THE PARTICIPANTS for their bravery in sharing their personal statements and portraits in a public forum. It takes great courage to write about one’s mental health, which traditionally is kept very private. In doing so, the participants take agency over their struggles, and honor the memory of Samuel Boone Yeager, whose life was cut short in 2021. Had he felt comfortable to talk about his mental illness and ask for help, Sam would likely still be here today. The mission of this photography show is to lay the foundation toward destigmatizing mental health. With suicide on the rise and with the lasting impacts of the pandemic on people’s psyches, having an open attitude about our internal struggles is more important than ever. If we could talk as easily about mental health as we can about diabetes or any other ailment, countless lives would be improved and saved. 


The Sammy Project was a year in the making after his death on April 3rd, 2021. My sincerest desire is to provide hope and healing for all who grieve the loss of Sam and who battle their own internal demons. These portraits were first revealed in an opening reception and solo exhibition on April 2, 2022 at the Katy Tartakoff Photography gallery in downtown Denver. It was a traveling photography exhibit at several Douglas County libraries in the first half of 2023. On February 21, 2024, NAMI officially adopted the project as their own. It is a permanent installation in their new community center in Colorado Springs. The hope is that it will continue to help others by normalizing the reality that most people experience struggles with mental health. 


The stories shared here could help others to understand they are not alone, bringing forth self-acceptance and a knowing that living a happy, successful life is completely within reach. We are looking for more volunteers to build on what we have started here. If you are interested in participating please email


With deep appreciation and for the love of Sam,

Whitney Yeager


Rest in Peace Samuel Boone Yeager—July 1997–April 2021

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