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Clemens HS soph honored for philanthropy

Reid Smith, cancer survivor, and sophomore at Samuel Clemens High School, was honored as Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Association of Fundraising Professionals in February. On March 2, 2023 the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio  presided over a blessing ceremony for the game room he helped fund, and design, at the facility.


“It was super cool,” he said. “It was my first time seeing it. My mind was blown.” 


Diagnosed with kidney cancer at the age of two, Smith has spent his life lifting the spirits of other cancer victims and raising money, which all came to fruition when the $20,000 he gathered throughout the years was matched by Hope Hits Harder, a 501(C)(3) to fund the game room on the oncology floor at the hospital.


“Hope Hits Harder helped me through everything,” Reid said. “From when I was in the hospital and (helping me) get all of this money.” He singled out Tom “T-Bone” Bounds, Founder & CEO of the charity that assists families dealing with a child with the disease. .


Cancer patients whose immune systems are compromised are isolated on the oncology floor will now be able to enjoy video games, as well as arts and crafts and other activities to help pass the time during their hospital stays. “Reid enjoys gaming,” said Tina Smith, Reid’s mother. “He forgets what he’s going through and he can just be a kid.”


“I just like to help other kids who aren’t as fortunate as I was,” Reid said. “So giving these kids opportunities to have fun in the hospital, like it did for me, was just that extra motivation, and seeing their smiles when we donate toys.” Reid is referring to the kindness shown to him by the hospital and its staff during his tenth birthday, when he spent a week in the ICU unit after a benign tumor was found on his spine.That made for an unforgettable experience and added to it by allowing a visit from his teacher at the time, Mrs. Maryfield. 


After his stay, Reid told his parents he would help raise money for the hospital the following year, wanting to have every child feel as special and celebrated as he was. He innately understood how young patients such as himself needed an escape from reality, which in turn, generated his idea of a game room.


“I’m so incredibly proud of him,” said Tina Smith, Reid’s biggest cheerleader during his cancer odyssey. “Especially for the compassion and kindness he’s shown.”


Reid has been an important figure for the Buffaloes’ football team. Ever since his days as a student at Wilder Intermediate School, he has led the Buffs onto the field on Friday nights, as the team had taken note of Reid’s fighting spirit and drew inspiration from it.


Now, he’s a member of the team, although he is not allowed to have contact and thus unable to play. “It means so much to me because it’s like having a ton of brothers,” Reid said. “And Coach Johnston and the assistants, they all show they care.”


Reid’s fight continues. He is currently in a good place physically, visiting several specialists for routine care. His latest obstacle was neuropathy, which often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in the hands and feet. “It stopped me from going to morning practices, but that’s wearing off. I can do everything with the team when it comes to practice.”


He never misses an opportunity to raise money for other young cancer patients, including occasionally shaving off his blonde locks. This encouraging spirit permeates the game room at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, making someone’s journey with cancer a little brighter, a testament to the young man’s fortitude, goodness and decency.  


“I can tell when those kids came into the room and weren’t having the greatest day,” Reid said. “But I’m sure the (game) room will put smiles on their faces.”