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Twenty-year-old Preston Smith was about to enter a Naval nuclear engineering program and had interests in his faith, family and books when he suffered a massive brain bleed. He spent eight weeks at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Georgia for rehabilitation.
Now, he’s fighting back. On Saturday, Oct. 1, the community will be gathering to celebrate Smith’s 21st birthday and raise money to help defray his medical expenses. Starting at 2 p.m., attendees can come out, play lawn games and hear live music.
“We just know it’s going to be beautiful,” his grandmother Gloria Kreuth said of the weather. “We’re counting on that.”
She’s expecting 200 people, but said she’s prepared for far more. Her goal is to raise $10,000 — a number she chose randomly. When she hosted a backyard barbecue for a friend with ovarian cancer, she raised $5,000.
“I might as well double my guestimation so I went for 10,” she said.
Smith is due to return home Oct. 4, when he’ll begin physical therapy on the first floor of his house. He’ll need to learn to walk and talk again. He’ll be in a wheelchair for a while, Kreuth said.
“These are things that insurance companies do not pay for and of course his parents they have two other kids and the money’s just not there, so this is basically my plan for where his funds are going to go,” his grandmother said.
According to Kreuth, Smith was incredibly family-oriented and thought analytically. He had attended the University of Jacksonville for two years before he decided to pursue a career in the Navy.
“He was just a loving, kind, wonderful kind of person,” she said.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the door. Children under 12 are free.
The event will take place at Spitfire Farms, 686 Princess Anne Rd., in Virginia Beach.