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Foxborough's Sam Berns, 17, Awarded Posthumous Degree

Berns died in January from a rare genetic disease that accelerates the aging process.

Sam Berns. Credit: "Life According to Sam"
Sam Berns. Credit: "Life According to Sam"

Sam Berns, the 17-year-old Foxborough resident who battled a rare disease that accelerates the aging process, was awarded a posthumous degree from Suffolk University over the weekend.

Berns was diagnosed with progeria, a genetic condition. Children who have it live to an average age of 13.

Last year, HBO Documentaries released "Life According to Sam," which chronicled his life.

Suffolk awarded Berns a honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. The university said Berns "made a significant contribution to science through his willingness to shed light on progeria while inspiring people to live life to the fullest."

His parents established The Progeria Research Foundation in 1999 to fight the disease.

"(Sam) never let his medical condition define him," Scott Berns said during a pre-commencement dinner. "He was a percussionist, Eagle Scott, umpire...high school honors student, and a member of the National Honors Society."

"He had the courage and drive to do extraordinary things."

Berns developed a relationship with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who called the boy an inspiration.

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