Don and Connie Smith.
Don and Connie Smith.

CONTINENTAL – After 15 years, and more than 40 miles, Don Smith has completed his 16th swim raising money for children with type 1 diabetes. Through countless small personal donations and support of companies and organizations throughout Ohio and parts of Florida, Don and his wife Connie are very proud of the over $230,000 in total that they have raised for Diabetes Youth Services (DYS).

That’s an impressive total for an event with humble beginnings. In Smith’s first year, his swim event raised $1700.

Smith lived most of his life in Continental, Ohio. He began his annual swim event after being inspired by a brochure for a charity swim to benefit DYS that he found at the Defiance Area YMCA. After the first year, Don learned more about DYS and became passionate about what the organization does for children with type 1 diabetes.

Smith is often asked what his connection is to diabetes, or if he has diabetes. “I do not have diabetes or have anyone in my family with diabetes. It’s about the kids,” he responds. “It’s all about the kids.”

Since retiring to Sun City Center, Florida, Don and Connie have taken their cause on the road. They have shared their passion for DYS with their new neighbors. Through efforts like these, Smith’s supporters now spread through 28 states and two countries.

The signature program that DYS offers is summer camps for children ranging from toddlers to teens managing type 1 diabetes. The money that the Smiths raise helps to ensure that any child who wants to attend camp is able to attend. In Smith’s view, no child be turned away because of a family’s inability to pay the fees. Year after year, the funds that are raised makes camp available and affordable to nearly any child who wants to attend.

DYS has its headquarters in Toledo, Ohio, and serves children throughout a 34 county area in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. The organization also provides support services, education programs in schools, mentoring and family programming.

To help support the ongoing efforts of Don and Connie Smith, donations can be sent to: Don Smith Swim, c/o DYS, 2100 W. Central Ave., Toledo, OH 43606. Please make checks payable to DYS and put ‘Don Smith Swim’ in the memo.