Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Time is Running Out for a Small Town Hero

Vermillion, South Dakota has a population of 10,000. It could be the set for "Back to the Future".  The pride of this small town, tucked away in the southeast corner of South Dakota, is Larry Smith. Despite the non-descript name, he is a hero. He owns a bakery in town, Mr. Smith’s Bakery Café, known in Vermilion for its salted baguettes. Larry was a police chief in Hamden, Connecticut until 1999, but that is not the reason he is a hero. He has Parkinson's disease, having been diagnosed almost 20 years ago when he was 42, but he is not one to accept his fate without a fight. His motto: “If you love life, you will fight for it!”
This June, Larry is going to cycle approximately 280 miles across South Dakota. Now Lance Armstrong could do that in a day without working up a sweat. But for Larry, who has trouble walking across the room, talking or staying still, it will take everything he has over 5 days.
If this feat were a Parkinson’s fundraising event, Larry's efforts would doubtlessly be rewarded. But it is more. You see there is a group of well-known independent documentary filmmakers who want to profile this small town hero to show what living with Parkinson's is all about. PD has touched each of them. It is hoped that the movie will lift the awareness of this disease above its current characterization as "the shaking that old people get". As a bonus, it will inevitably encourage those of us who face the challenge of PD every day. Encouragement is what Positively Parkinson’s is all about.

I have never pitched any particular PD organization, with the exception of my support of Wobbly Williams in Scotland, but I believe that this is a project worth supporting financially. Certainly I will be. Pledges totaling $50,000 "earnest money" are needed no later than noon Vancouver time on February 2, 2011 in order to get the costs of producing the film underwritten. If you are willing and able, watch the video clip here. Even if you are not able to make a tax-deductible (U.S. only) donation, the story of this small town hero is inspiring and I recommend the video clip anyway. The world seems short of heroes today.


  1. A wonderful story about a remarkable man! I made my contribution and can't wait to see this all come together. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hey Bob, I already gave, but now this post has got me thinking I need to give again. And I am a terrible tightwad. Nice post,