Fundraiser to Aid Scholarships, Camp
The parents of David Michael Smith, who was killed by a train in 2006, established a memorial fund in his name that provides a scholarship to a graduating senior and funds for Ferndale Youth Assistance Projects.
Dianna and Lloyd Smith are taking the biggest tragedy that could befall a parent – the loss of a child – and turning their own sorrow into a drive to help other children achieve.
Their son, David Michael Smith, died July 29, 2006, after being hit by a train. His parents decided to honor his memory by establishing the David Michael Smith Memorial Fund, which awards a scholarship to a graduating senior at Ferndale High School every year and also provides funds to the Ferndale Youth Assistance Program.
Buffalo Wild Wings on Nine Mile Road will host an event Wednesday to benefit the fund. The restaurant will donate 15 percent of the proceeds of all food purchased from 5-9 p.m.
Dianna Smith said the event, which is in its third year, serves as much to raise awareness of the fund as it does to generate money, because people who hear the story are moved to write a check as well as donate a percentage of their meal. “That $25 contribution does us more good, and the fundraiser helps by bringing in more people and more money," she said.
The David Michael Smith Memorial Fund helps local students in many ways that reflect who David Smith was. He was involved with Ferndale Youth Assistance, through which he received counseling after a minor brush with the law. He then volunteered at the Gerry Kulick Community Center, even after his mandated time there was over. He worked with children, dressing up as the Easter Bunny for the annual Easter breakfast and doing card tricks to entertain children as they waited in line to visit Santa.
That inspired the annual scholarship, which honors a senior who has contributed to the community.
Dianna Smith has remained involved with Ferndale Youth Assistance and last year contributed money from the fund to send children receiving counseling there to camps.
Stephanie McGowan, a caseworker for Ferndale Youth Assistance, said it costs between $150 and $175 daily to send a child to camp, which was not in the organization's budget after funding cuts last year. The David Michael Smith Memorial Fund’s contribution allowed FYA to continue the camp program and will do so this year as well, although it will no longer offer a sleep-away camp option. But limiting the camp scholarships to day camps will allow more children to participate, she said.
“For children in stressful environments, they need the opportunity to be a kid and just go away (from home) and use social skills. They discover new ways of thinking, which helps them with having a positive outlook on things in their lives,” McGowan said.
The fund also has purchased drug-testing kits for families involved with Ferndale Youth Assistance, and it educates students on the dangers of trains. David died after he put a quarter on the tracks of an oncoming train; he’d cleared the tracks when the train approached but was sucked into the wind created by the train and was pulled under it.
Sparing another family from the tragedy hers faced is very important to Dianne Smith. “Everyone thinks, ‘It’s not going to happen to me,’ ” she said. “We try to use his picture as much as possible because kids can relate – he was a real kid.”
For more information or to donate, call Dianna Smith at 586-994-6400 or Ferndale Youth Assistance at 248-586-8700.