Fred Sammons, PhD (Hon), OT, FAOTA
Fred Sammons began his professional life teaching mechanical drawing to high school students. It was after serving in the Army during the Korean War that he earned his occupational therapy degree at Virginia Commonwealth University on the GI Bill. His first job was at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, becoming the director of occupational therapy in 1957. In 1960, Fred joined the staff of the amputee clinic at Northwestern University, and this is where he began to design and build devices to assist individuals with disabilities in their every day activities. With a growing demand for his devices, Fred decided in 1965 to devote all his time to creating, manufacturing, and distributing his inventions, and "the rest is history." Sammons, Inc. grew to a multimillion dollar business, and is now Sammons Preston, an AbilityOne Company. His honorary doctorate in occupational therapy, awarded by the Western Michigan University (WMU) Department of Occupational Therapy, recognizes the many contributions he has made to the profession. Mr. Sammons was named one of the 100 Influential People of Occupational Therapy by AOTA.
Mr. Sammons continues to give to the profession through grants, scholarships, and donations that support research, education, and clinical programs. In his retirement, he has been an active member of AMBUCS, Inc., with whom he collaborates to develop designs for adapted bicycles and tricycles (AmTrykes) for children with disabilities. He expresses great pride in his innovative seating system and in the ways in which he has been able to adapt these bikes to each child’s needs. His love for innovation and technology that help others has been present throughout his life and continues today.
Mr. Sammons' support of the Foundation has been generous, long standing, and diverse including the Fred Sammons and Barbara Rider Endowed Scholarship of the Michigan Occupational Therapy Association, and the Fred Sammons Endowed Scholarship of the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association. AOTF established a new volunteer recognition award in 2017 as a result of a generous endowment for the award from Fred Sammons and Barbara Rider: the Fred Sammons Volunteer Recognition Award. This award will be presented by the AOTF in perpetuity. Mr. Sammons was the inaugural recipient. With the establishment for the endowment for this new volunteer recognition awards, Mr. Sammons becomes the first, and to date only, living million-dollar donor to the Foundation.
In 2017, AOTF created the Fred Sammons Volunteer Recognition Award in honor of Mr. Sammon's devotion to volunteerism. Mr. Sammons was the inaugural recipient.