Boys & Girls Club Learning Center named in honor of Dr. Danny Smith

Published 4:54 pm Friday, December 16, 2022

By Lynn J. Richardson
On Thursday evening, friends and supporters of the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County gathered for a tree lighting, a performance by the Boys & Girls Club Choir and especially to honor a man whose dedication and love for the Club knew no bounds — Dr. Danny Smith, a beloved Club board member who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.
The Club’s Learning Center was dedicated to “Dr. D,” as he was affectionately called and the Center will now be known as the “Dr. Danny Smith Learning Center.” Also on hand for the ceremony were members of Dr. Smith’s family. His wife, Kathy Smith, was emotional when she talked about how much the Club meant to her husband.
“The Boys and Girls Club just meant so much to him,” she said. “He went there when he was young and then being on the board and being able to work with the Club all through the years, it was just a passion for him. He just loved it. It is just wonderful that the Club is honoring him this way. It means the world to our family.”
The recognition is a way to say “thank you” for Smith’s many years of service to the Club as a board member and for his passion for seeing the organization grow and prosper, said Shelly Parham, the Club’s CEO.
“The Learning Center felt like the right space to honor Dr. Danny as he was such a champion of children being successful, and he believed that started with a strong education and good learning habits,” Parham said. “He knew the Club was a safe place for kids to grow, develop and learn. It’s a space dedicated to academic excellence, where the goal is for every child who comes through our blue doors to find value in education and continued learning. During the after school program members come into the Learning Center for the Power Hour which is a great opportunity for kids and teens to get their homework completed in a quiet place with support from trained, caring staff.   During the summer program the Learning Center is the centerpiece to our ‘Brain Gain’ program and our intense reading and tutoring program. These programs are designed to prevent youth from falling behind and losing academic skills while school is out.”
“Danny was a Club kid himself,” she added. “He knew first hand the impact the Boys Club had on his own life. Danny never hesitated to share his energy and ideas with the board to keep the Club on track as it was growing.”
Smith joined the Board of Directors in 1997, when the Club was needing strong leadership and change. His involvement underscored his belief that a strong board was the true way to make a difference and he was right, Parham said. “Even when ill, Danny always thought about the Club and the kids. He made sure he was always involved — no matter what.”
“For more than a quarter of a century he served and guided the Club into an organization that is financially stable, serves kids with intentional programming in the arts, science, academic success, social and emotional well-being and of course sports and physical fitness.”
Smith made a huge impact on the Elizabethton community. As an outstanding baseball player for Elizabethton High School, he earned a scholarship to play at Milligan College. After graduation he was accepted at Physical Therapy School at UT Memphis where he graduated in 1973.
He later attained his Master’s degree at ETSU in 1978 and his Doctorate of Physical Therapy — becoming the first DPT in the state of Tennessee — from the Institute of Physical Therapy at University of St. Augustine in 1996. Finally, Smith obtained his DhSC in Health Science in Physical Therapy at the University of St. Augustine in October of 2000.
Smith served on the Elizabethton School Board from 1986-2000, serving as Chairman from 1987-2000. He was a three-time honoree as Kiwanian of the Year and was inducted into the Elizabethton Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. He volunteered his services for 45 years helping thousands of athletes and children of the Elizabethton and Carter County school systems.
Also accomplished at the national level, Smith received the Sports Physical Therapy Section Distinguished Service Award in 1999, the Sports Physical Therapy Section Ron Peyton Award in February of 2009, the Turner A Blackburn Lifetime Achievement Award in February of 2011, the Sports Physical Therapy Section Hall of Fame in February 2011, the Mac Hensley Lifetime Achievement Award in September 2018 and the Carol Liken Award in February 2021. Smith also started the first Sports PT residency program in the state of Tennessee in 2012.
“When I first met Dr. Danny in 2018 he was addressing a group of teens and he gave them this advice: ‘Take initiative at all times, find out what your interests are, and prepare yourself,’ Parham said. “I wrote that down and to this day repeat it as new teens come into the Club. I was also taken by his infectious smile and laugh. I’m not sure you could find Dr. Danny without that smile on his face if he was inside the Club and with kids. He knew how much the children and youth in this community need the Boys & Girls Club for all that it offers — not just as a safe after-school program, but as an enriching environment where they thrive and learn and grow up to be the future of this area he called home.”

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