Smith, who was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 24, died in 2006 at 33 when the cancer returned in her liver and other parts of her body. Before she died, she set up the Dana G. Smith Foundation, which under the umbrella of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital’s Piedmont Healthcare Foundation in Buckhead provides funds for cancer patients so they can pay their bills.
“She was incredibly generous and smart and just a kind person. … She was always willing to help others,” said Marisa Ogles, Smith’s sister and the Smith Foundation’s board chairwoman. “She had a great spark about her that even the cancer couldn’t take away. I can’t honestly think of a better way to honor the person she was than through the work of this fund. It is a testament to the person she was.”
Smith’s husband Doug added, “She was full of life. She certainly was a leader in the commercial real estate industry, a leader in the Atlanta Board of Realtors. A lot of our support comes from folks in the industry who remember her. She liked to travel and was looking forward to starting a family. [She came from a] great family and her depth of friends and associates was an indicator of the kind of person she was.”
The Smith Foundation will host its eighth annual Birthday Celebration fundraiser Tuesday at SweetWater Brewing Co. in Buckhead.
“I’m excited. I love it,” Doug Smith said. “It’s a great opportunity to see old friends and her family. How can you not enjoy going and drinking SweetWater beer, eating barbecue from Fat Matt’s [Rib Shack] and listening to music.”
Ogles said she hopes the event will raise $20,000. As of last week, the foundation had raised $438,347 since its inception.
“We’re trying to transition the fund into a self-sustaining endowment,” Ogles said. “There’s currently $260,000 in [reserves]. The goal is to get the fund to $500,000 in the next two years. This way, if we never have another event, or God forbid something happened to all of us, the fund would live on in perpetuity so people could be helped forever and ever.”
James Gates, director of Piedmont Healthcare Foundation, said the funds from the Smith Foundation make a difference in cancer patients’ lives.
“It’s probably one of our most important funds because it has the capability to help where insurance can’t,” Gates said. “It gives you a special sense of pride knowing you’re able to alleviate pain and suffering from the financial ramifications associated with cancer. I think that’s the most rewarding thing.
“These patents come to you and they’re at wit’s end. Cancer has eaten through their financial resources. Our gifts are not going to change their lives, but it’s going to give them some necessary breathing room where they can at least take a step back, re-gather themselves. When [oncology social worker] Jackie Lawrence gives those checks out, the gratitude and appreciation is there in their eyes. … It’s versatile and amazing what it can do. That’s all because of Dana and the person she was.”
If you go:
o What: eighth annual Dana G. Smith Foundation Birthday Celebration
o Where: SweetWater Brewing Co., 195 Ottley Drive, Buckhead
o When: Tuesday from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
o Benefits: Piedmont Healthcare cancer patients
o Tickets: $30 in advance, $40 at the door, $50 VIP (includes T-shirt)
o Information: www.danagsmithfund.org