updated 07/28/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 07/28/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT
For two months after Sam, a sophomore at UCLA, died, Vance remained in a deep depression. Although she considered Sam "my best friend," she says, Vance, 48, who is divorced from Sam's father and lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., didn't know he was experimenting with drugs. "I feel I should have noticed something," she says. "I will always feel guilt."
What she mostly feels today, however, is inspiration. Thanks to Sama's success, Vance has been able to funnel more than $2 million to drug prevention and education programs through the nonprofit Sam Vance Foundation. Last year, when she wed optician Ross Herwitz, 41, she walked down the aisle accompanied by seven of Sam's closest friends. "Through them," she says, "I felt Sam was there."