"Keeping Our Dreams Focused" - An Appreciation of Marilyn Smith
At the close of 2019, Marilyn Smith ended her remarkable 15-year tenure (2005-2019) at Unite 2 Fight Paralysis (U2FP). Marilyn was a principal Founder of U2FP, and the Executive Director for over a decade, before transitioning to the role of President of the Board of Directors and Financial Manager from 2017 to 2019.
Marilyn's contribution as an advocate for individuals with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) and their families has been enormously fruitful, and will continue to be so as she moves into the next phase of her journey as a Voice of the Cure!
Below are just two of the many tributes we received from individuals in the SCI Community expressing their gratitude for Marilyn's legacy of achievement at U2FP.
The origins of U2FP are well known. Lesser known is how in the beginning, our plans were far more ambitious than our finances would allow. For the first Working 2 Walk, Marilyn, Bethany, and I looked at mortgaging our houses to pay for it. At the 11th hour, we did raise just enough funds, though. That is the way it was back then - our ambitions for U2FP were far greater than we ever had funding for. Our passion and drive to see the backside of paralysis drove us, and Marilyn was the ringleader. We were a group of scrappy volunteers with our own skin in the game, confident in our ability to make a difference. Through it all, Marilyn was the conduit that kept our dreams focused.
U2FP has made a difference and much of its success has been due to Marilyn. She has been through it all and can be very proud of all that has been accomplished these past 15+ years. I am grateful for her service and commitment to the paralysis community and most importantly, to have been able to count her as not only a colleague, but, as a friend.
- Susan Maus, Co-Founder of Unite 2 Fight Paralysis & SCI Individual
As an advocate for a spinal cord injury cure, Marilyn has always walked-the-walk and talked-the-talk. Case in point: In 2013 I was organizing a team of charity walkers to participate in the groundbreaking, first-ever Naperville, IL marathon/half-marathon race. Our team's goal was to raise $10,000 for the non-profit Spinal Cord Injury Sucks (SCIS). Marilyn flew almost 2000 miles from Portland, OR to Chicago to walk the 13.1 miles on a chilly weekend in November. Thanks to Marilyn's commitment to the cause, her physical prowess and phenomenal fundraising talent, she helped our team raise almost double our goal.
- Ginni Kent, Former U2FP Board Member & SCI Family Member