Like all things that grow, the Sunshine Foundation has had growing pains. In 1987 the foundation came under investigation by the attorney general’s office for mismanagement. No charges were filed. Sample’s defenders asserted that he was a former cop with a big heart, not an accountant. Sample rode out the rocky times, still serving as president. Sample did step down in 2009 and now has the title of President Emeritus. His wife, Kate, serves as president of the foundation.
His legacy speaks for itself. The Sunshine Foundation (now based in Feasterville) has granted the wishes of over 34,500 children, funneling 85% of all donations directly to children’s programs. The American Institute for Philanthropy now lists it as a top-rated charity. Aside from the Philadelphia Award, Sample has received many other awards, including President Ronald Reagan’s Volunteer Action Award and the Please Touch Museum’s Great Friends to Kids Award. Villanova University granted him an honorary doctorate.
Sources: John F. Clancy, “An Honor for Lighting Youngsters’ Last Days,” Philadelphia Inquirer, Mar. 10, 1980; Katharine Seelye, “Charity Chief Gets a Show of Support,” Philadelphia Inquirer , July 24, 1987; Katharine Seelye, “Sunshine Retains President,” Philadelphia Inquirer , July 30, 1987; Daniel Rubin, “McGowan Facing a New Challenge, and This Time with Doubters,” Philadelphia Inquirer , Nov. 20, 1988; Hope Keller, “Sunshine Charity Lessens Philadelphia Ties,” Philadelphia Inquirer , Feb. 20, 1990; “About the Founder & President Emeritus, Bill Sample,” http://sunshinefoundation.com/message.html; “Sunshine Foundation,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunshine_Foundation.