Community comes together to Noah Smith

Weekend tournament, auction rally funds for accident victim

A tennis tournament beginning today at the Hood River Sports Club kicks off a weekend benefit for Noah Smith.

More than 92 people have registered for the tennis tournament, and another 24 have signed up to play in a fund-raising racquetball tourney. Competition continues through the weekend and will be highlighted by a two-day silent auction and a live auction gala Saturday night at the club.

Noah, a 1999 graduate of Hood River Valley High School, was severely injured in a car accident on Dec. 1, 2002, that left him paralyzed. He has been recovering at the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon for several weeks. His mother, Marilyn, reports that Noah retains “good movement” in the triceps and biceps of both arms. He is also gaining increasing fine motor function in his right hand, Marilyn said.

Noah, a junior at the University of Oregon, is scheduled to be released from RIO in early February and will come to live with his parents in Hood River for the transition to outpatient therapy.

According to Marilyn, “Doctors assure (Noah) that even if he gains no more neurological return, eventually he will be able to drive a car, go back to school, work and live independently.

While this is somewhat comforting, it is certainly not what he had envisioned a few months ago.”

Community members have been working hard for several weeks gathering items for the auctions. More than 250 specific goods and services totaling more than $18,000 have been donated. Most will be sold during the silent auction, which runs Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at xthe Sports xxx Club. A few select items will be sold to the highest bidder during a live auction Saturday night from 6 to 8 p.m. at the club.

The live auction event, with a suggested $5 donation, includes appetizers and beverages, as well as random give-aways of Sports Club passes. Live music will be performed by local bluegrass band Crazy Heart.

Highlights of the items up for auction include a two-hour concert with the White Salmon Jazz Band, a four-day kids camp from Big Winds, breakfast for two at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, six months free Internet service from Gorge Networks, golf lessons at Indian Creek, a “wedding package” from a local photographer, train tickets for the Mt. Hood Railroad, summer mountain passes at Timberline and a 10 day pass from Mt. Hood Meadows. Gift certificates and retail items from many local restaurants and shops will also be auctioned.

Kathy Eastman, one of several community members and Sports Club staff working on the fund-raiser, calls the response from the community “absolutely overwhelming.”

“When we think we have everything, someone else calls,” she said. “It has been just amazing.”

The weekend event is one of several fund-raisers held during the past two months to raise money for the Noah Smith Rehabilitation Fund. Along with medical costs incurred at RIO, annual lifetime costs associated with Noah’s type of spinal cord injury average over $40,000 per year, according to Marilyn Smith. The driver responsible for the accident was uninsured.

Donations to the fund can be made to John and Marilyn Smith, 5640 Alder Road, Hood River, OR 97031.

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