Photo of Debbie Smith

A most extraordinary woman. Debbie Smith, a Canadian volunteer, friend and beloved sister in law, who headed south of the border to Vegas each holiday season to seek out and manage thousands of volunteers. We have lost this bright star and it is fitting that her good deeds not go unrecognized.

Our dear sweet indefatigable Debbie…I send this message to you in heaven on behalf of thousands of your friends from Nevada and across the globe. Our hearts are broken because you have left us, and the world is less than it was before.

You… our most humble of friends, amassed legions of admirers from faraway places and each person, to a man, felt blessed to know you. You accumulated an army of followers because you were the optimistic pied piper, while we stumble bumbled along in an attempt to dance to the beat of your personal, oh so very energetic drum.

Onward in goodness…. in kindness… in optimism… oh if only we could pick up a few of the kindness crumbs that were the essence of you.

I can image sweet pal, that after your 10-week stints across the border each fall and winter season, where you engaged thousands of volunteers in a million acts of kindness, that you returned home to your loving family and friends and ate humble pie. Yes. That is the essence of you, performing miracles, not one to brag.

So, let me set the record straight. YOU Debbie Smith brought humanity to a town better known for slick casino operators and mobster mayors. You shined in goodness, much brighter than the Las Vegas city lights.

You were ours and everyone’s little bundle of positivity and kindness, and you have left us and gone away and we have suffered an unimaginable loss.

What the heck Debbie! you were the proverbial ever ready bunny, a Pollyanna and a Julie Poppins all rolled into one compact 5ft something bundle of goodness. Why did we have to lose you? You of all people, just when the world needed more Debbie Smiths.

I think of you and cry…. but then laugh when I reflect on our crazy, over the top magnificent events. Each one created in love of our Canadian born Christopher Smith, your “Up” syndrome nephew, my special boy who ventured across the border with us, plunking down in Vegas where together we took on the task of raising millions of dollars to build a Village…Opportunity Village.

In your south of the border sojourn each year, you faced off against 10,000 running Santa’s, trying not to get mowed down as you corralled the cheerleading volunteers and the marching bands.

You coordinated the lighting of millions of lights and hundreds of displays in the Magical Forest by volunteers from the federal prison, sweet faced missionaries, and representatives of the finest of Nevada citizens. You took this crazy town and turned everyone here into your personal volunteer army of goodness.

When I speak to your friends across the continent, there’s a constant…. it’s Debbie by our side, always optimistic, always positive, always our personal champion. Certainly mine.
Sweet friend, I would not be half the person I am, or have accomplished so very much in life without you as my inspiration. Together, we raised over a half a billion dollars for kids with disabilities. Heaven knows what you accomplished in Canada through your own philanthropy and volunteerism… a children’s park in Cobourg Ontario for starters.

From the first Concert of Love in Canada in the first year of Christopher’s life, with Gilda Radner and the cast of Godspell. To the Celine Dion Concert at Caesars Colosseum in Las Vegas; there was Debbie smoothing things over, making friends, corralling volunteers… holding onto our Christopher backstage when he told Celine to “SHUT UP”!

What fun we had.

You took the Magical Forest from a piddling event to a monster success that raised a couple of million each year when you added your touches… bringing Santa Blair to our doorstep and so many more friends and family… way too many to list.

In your spare time you helped heal John’s broken heart with a legacy for our Cheyenne, when you waved your magic wand and a dream of a lasting memory for our little girl was a first-year instant success. Cheyenne’s Magical School Bus tours took off like a firestorm, because you contacted every principal, at every At-Risk school in our County, and matched them with donors so that 5000 needy children would enjoy a day at the Magical Forest with a backpack filled with gifts, lessons and love. By the time you wrapped up your Nevada commitment to open your own Curves business in Canada, 35,000 needy children had come to the Magical Forest, for a magical visit, Debbie style.

We laughed at your expense over and over again each year in recanting the many Debbie ‘Forest faux pas’…

“Ahhh Linda, we have a little problem, Mr. Thomas is bringing 100 youth on LSD to volunteer tonight” …… “you mean LDS youth?” You were our funny, sweet and innocent Debbie.

When radio silenced was invoked due to a lost child in our crazy Forest…. there was Debbie paralyzing the air waves….
“Ahhhhh Hallooooo… OOOH, I have a lovely volunteer… I think I will get her a hot chocolate… ahhhh then we will go on a train ride… ahhh Hellooooo does anyone have a need for a lovely volunteer?

You operated out of an altered universe, one that every one of us would like to visit just once. It’s here that you live…your own optimistic world…a place always loving, always kind.

You were the worlds 5ft something little bundle of Canadian cheerfulness. A veritable proliferation of goodness. A friend who is a friend, the favorite auntie, a loving mom and beloved daughter, a wife and an amazing grandmother to your long-awaited newborn Jacob… all first in your heart and mind… all at the same time.

Is this even possible? Yes, it is because you are the standard bearer for every human interaction. Wouldn’t the world be better if there were more Debbie Smiths in it?

You were our gentle, courageous, righteous, energetic, stubborn, indefatigable pal, and stupid Covid and the border prevented me from coming to your side. I so wanted to be there for you as you were always there for me.

So today I am here without you, and I am feeling a vertigo of the soul. You have left us all behind just when we needed more humans like you.

You, dearest Debbie left a lasting mark of love on the world. Love that is directed across the universe to so many hapless souls. A gracious love from a person who has enough in one little bundle of humanness to share with the entire world.

We love and miss your spunky beautiful face more than you can imagine…