Years ago, Tammy Hunt periodically would put together charity events.
And, whenever she did, the Smith family would step up and offer their business, San Ann Liquor & Lounge (also known as Ralph’s), as a location for the fundraisers.
As a result, the Smith’s generosity became widely known in the community.
So, when Mark Smith, the son of Ralph’s owners, Grace and Jimmy, needed help, it was a no-brainer for Hunt to get involved.
“This one was a hands-down easy decision to make to help this family,” Hunt said.
The 36-year-old Smith has been diagnosed with bile duct cancer, and while he battles the disease, a number of fundraising events are planned on Nov. 14 to help raise money for his treatment.
The events will be at his parents’ business, at 33625 State Road 52 in San Antonio.
It is unusual for someone as young as Smith to be affected by bile duct cancer.
Normally, the disease affects senior citizens. The average age of a bile duct cancer patient is between 70 and 72, depending upon the type of bile duct affected, according to the American Cancer Society’s website.
In a way, that works to Smith’s advantage. His body should be better able to handle the long and painful treatment, giving him a stronger chance of success, Hunt explained.
But, that still leaves the “long and painful” part to endure. He’s already spent weeks in the hospital, requires muscle relaxers to ease the pain, and has more procedures and chemotherapy ahead of him.
Not surprisingly, the treatment is expensive. The Smiths have been able to find generic options for some prescriptions, but without catching cost-cutting breaks, the medications alone could eventually bankrupt someone without health insurance.
And, Smith doesn’t have health insurance.
He does, however, have a supportive family and a community that is pulling together to help the Smiths in their time of need.
The outpouring of support has been noted and appreciated.
“We can’t say enough about the community,” said Mark’s brother, Jimmy Smith II. “Anytime something goes wrong and we give back to the community, the community gives back just as hard, if not harder.”
There will be plenty of ways the community can help on Nov. 14.
A golf tournament begins at 8 a.m., at The Abbey golf course at Saint Leo University, 33640 State Road 52.
Barbecue chicken dinners will be sold, starting at noon, at San Ann Liquor & Lounge.
That’s followed by a cornhole tournament at 2 p.m.
There will be a firearm raffle at 6 p.m., silent and live auctions, a 50/50 drawing and other raffles and giveaways.
Live music and beer specials also are planned as part of the day’s events.
While it’s going to be a long treatment process, Jimmy Smith II said his brother has the personality to endure hardships and work his way toward recovery.
“He’s very outgoing. He’s a go-getter. He’s a very hard worker when he’s got his mind into anything,” he said.
Hunt has put in a considerable amount of work to organize a full day of events to help the Smiths.
Her old fundraising skills are being put to good use, and she admits that this one is personal for her.
“It’s been a little emotional, just because it’s close to my heart,” Hunt said. “But I’m glad that I can do it.”
The golf event costs $50 per player, or $200 per team, and includes dinner.
The cornhole tournament costs $25 per player.
Auction items include a guitar autographed by Joe Walsh, member of the iconic rock band The Eagles.
Donations also can be made directly to San Antonio Citizens Federal Credit Union by referencing Mark Smith Benefit Fund account number 5587-001.
For more information, contact Hunt at (352) 206-5543 or Jimmy Smith II at (813) 714-9937.
Published November 11, 2015