Call for support: "Voice of Ohio sportsmen now needs help from them"

Wooster's The Daily-Record is reporting that one of our own needs our help.

For the past three decades, Don Smith has been fighting for sportsman's rights as a field representative for the United States Sportsman's Alliance. There's not a sport show, rendezvous or traderee that he hasn't set up a booth at in the state of Ohio.

He's logged more miles than a long-distance truck driver, carrying the word to all corners of the state, representing sportsmen in the halls of Congress, in the hunting fields and on the fishing waters.

He's preached conservation, preservation and the importance of our outdoor heritage to everyone and anyone within earshot. He was and is a soldier for the sportsmen.

He's raised money for youth events, fish stockings, fishing rods and reels and other outdoor gear. He's raffled off more 4-wheelers than Polaris itself.

Today, though, Don Smith is fighting for his life. The Wooster resident is currently in Cleveland Clinic awaiting evaluation for a heart transplant, and possibly a new kidney as well.

"I've got diabetes, congestive heart failure, everything," said Smith from his hospital room. "And, I didn't do myself any favors by pushing it at work."

As The Daily-Record writes so well, "Now it's our turn to give back to someone who has been out there on the front line fighting the good fight. It's time to pony up for the guy who was there for us when they tried to take away our rights, tried to change the laws, tried to eliminate our sport."

In an effort to help defray some of the Smith family's piling debt, a benefit pasta dinner will be held on Sunday, Sept. 25 from noon-4 p.m. at the Church of the Saviour, 480 Fry Road, Wooster.

According to the article, the fundraiser is the brainchild of Step Genet, who works with Don's daughter, Tiffany, at Taco Bell in Wooster. Tiffany convinced her grandma, Sandy Fry, to plan the benefit dinner.

"I think it is very kind of Steph to want to help this family in need," said Fry. "She has a big heart.

"I pray that Don receives a new heart and kidney and I pray that the community reaches out to this family. Any one of us could be facing a life-threatening situation at any time, and we need to be there for our friends and family."

Due to his health, Smith was not there when the USSA, a national watchdog organization that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot and in Congress, honored him at the Save Our Heritage Rally in Columbus this past spring.

"Don was a volunteer crusader for our outdoor heritage during the founding of our organization," said Bud Pidgeon, USSA president and CEO. "His passion for our sports earned him a spot on our staff, where he has excelled in raising funds and organizing sportsmen throughout Ohio and beyond. I cannot think of a better person to recognize for their tireless efforts to protect hunting, fishing and trapping yesterday, today, and in the future."

Smith, who has not been able to work because of his health, likes to use the "guy in the mirror" story when talking about how sportsmen should look at themselves when it comes to protecting their rights.

"They are the majority of one, and that majority is the person you see in the mirror every morning," Smith likes to say. "That person can make the decision to either be part of the problem, or part of the solution."

Right now, Smith has a problem, and we can be part of the solution.

Besides the pasta dinner, there will be a silent auction and 50/50 raffle. Suggested donation is $10.

Tickets for the Sept. 25 benefit are on sale at The Ranch, 4586 East Lincoln Way; The Gun Shop, 565 South Buckeye, and All Seasons Sports Center, 2700 Akron Road (all in Wooster). Tickets will also be available at the door.

If you can't attend the event, but would like to help Don anyway, you can send checks (payable to Donald L. Smith) to Donald L. Smith, 801 Kingsmill Parkway, Columbus, OH 43229.

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