Relay a chance to honor Granddad

Published 2:59 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My grandfather was a character.

Andrew Smith Jr., know to most as Smitty, was as Mr. Buster MacGuire put it, “A character among characters.”

To me, he was larger than life.

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I learned a lot from my Granddad, who passed away nearly 14 years ago.

He taught me how to cuss, a skill I rarely put to practice, but if needed I have it.

He taught me that the only baseball team worth cheering for is the New York Yankees, and that Mickey Mantle is the greatest outfielder of all time. He also taught me that a Boston Red Sox’s fan is never to be trusted.

He taught me to say what I mean and to mean what I say. I can’t count the times he told me that a man is only as good as his word.

He taught me that any western with John Wayne as the lead actor was worth your time.

He taught that everyone, whether they are the coach at the University of Alabama or the kid bagging groceries at Super Foods, should be treated with respect.

Nearly 14 years ago, my Granddad was killed by cancer.

For months he struggled.

If you knew him, you know he wasn’t one to complain. He’d just stick a cigar in the corner of his mouth like General Patton and soldier on. Then one day, he lost the fight.

He joined the thousands that cancer has defeated.

This year about 580,350 Americans are expected to die of cancer. That’s almost 1,600 people per day, or one in every four deaths in the United States. That makes cancer the second most common cause of death in the country, second only to heart disease.

This weekend I have the chance to remember my Granddad by joining in the fight against the terrible disease that claimed his life.

On Friday night, hundreds will gather at Butler County’s Relay for Life to celebrate survivors and remember those lost to cancer.

Relay for Life began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Wash. His efforts that first year raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society, according to the Relay For Life website. To date the event has raised more than $4 billion for cancer research.

That research is the key to helping folks survive cancer.

I hope you will join me at Relay for Life. Not only will you have a good time, you may very well help save someone’s life.