If you ever watch South Stokes play basketball you’ll find former player Don Smith sitting near the front row rooting his alma mater on. Smith played for the Sauras from 1983 to 1986 and his teammates have rallied together to help him battle neuropathy, a disease which affects his sensory nerves. Teammate Jimbo McGee is leading the efforts.
“There is no finer individual in this world than Don Smith,” McGee said. “We were talking a few weeks ago about our team and the accomplishments we achieved together. That’s when I thought of the idea of trying to get together and raise a little money for him. Don had no idea what I was planning, but I told him we needed to expand the reunion to cheerleaders, coaches, dance team members and our classmates of the 80s.”
Smith started as a sophomore on the Sauras varsity team that won a 4A conference championship and 16 games throughout the season. Members of the team were: Maury Hairston, Barry Jones, Chris King, Charles Hatcher, Keith Nail, Marty Danzy, Donnie Lash, Jimbo McGee, Danny Gordon, Richard Shackleford, Gary Scales, Chris Lankford, Willie Hairston and Smith. Leroy Myers, Kent Mendenhall and Bob Sullivan served as coaches.
“That team was the greatest group of people that set out to achieve a goal,” Smith said. “We reached it through hard work, desire, determination, and discipline. I use those same characteristics to get through life now, but that is where I learned those traits.”
Smith was a teacher at Southeastern Stokes Middle before he was first diagnosed in June of 2014. After several months of battling the disease, a team of doctors at N.C. Baptist Hospital performed emergency surgery. Since then, he’s been out of work and unable to drive.
In Friday night’s game against Bishop McGuinness, South Stokes will be accepting donations for Smith and conducting a 50/50 raffle to benefit the former player.
“I’m just so overwhelmed with the love I’m being showed,” Smith said. “I can’t wait to see my old teammates and classmates on Friday.”
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.