, Corbin, KY

July 11, 2012

Corbin boy’s dying wish receives special recognition

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By Becky Killian / Managing Editor

A Corbin boy whose dying wish to help feed the poor and the homeless led to his recognition by police, emergency responders and a local business has lost his battle with cancer.

Ethan C. Smith, 10, died Saturday at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington.

Ethan’s father, Ian Smith, 41, said his son suffered a seizure Friday and was hospitalized. Ethan never awoke following the seizure.

Ethan was first diagnosed with the brain tumor on Oct. 22. Doctors told Ian Smith his son wouldn’t survive — a grim prognosis he never shared with his son.

“He said he was ready to go home to Jesus but he kept fighting every minute,” Ian said.

As Ethan underwent a series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments in Lexington, he was told he would be granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

A couple weeks passed before Ethan decided what his wish would be. Just before Christmas, Ian Smith said his son wished that a bag of apples could be given to all the poor and homeless people.

Despite his son’s young age, Ian Smith said his boy always thought of others first. Often, if Ethan got a gift, he would re-gift it to other children — even those who were mean to him.

Ethan also would talk to his dad about fellow students at Hunter Hills who didn’t seem to have the money to pay for snacks during breaks. Sometimes, Ian said he would give his son extra money so he could buy snacks for his schoolmates.

“He was just awesome,” Ian Smith said.

While his father may not have been surprised about his son’s wish, other people were impressed after Ian Smith posted the wish on Facebook.

As a result of that post, Lonnie “Peanut” Williams, a sales manager at Falls Auto Group in Corbin, took the Smith’s family car and made needed repairs to it including replacing the tires. Ian Smith said they even filled up the gas tank when it was needed and loaned the family a car to use while theirs was being fixed.

“I don’t know any other way to thank them,” Ian Smith said. “They didn’t know me. They didn’t know Ethan.”

Police and emergency responders who were also moved by Ethan’s wish arranged to have the boy named an Honorary Trooper. On one special day, Ethan was given a uniform, was introduced to troopers and some of their canine helpers. He even got to ride in a police helicopter.

“They just made him feel like he was a little king,” Ian Smith said, crediting Kentucky State Police Detective Josh Bunch for helping to organize the event.

That special day included the unveiling of a special logo for “Ethan’s Apples.” While Ian Smith said his focus was his son before, he now hopes to develop that charity to benefit the needy.

With tears in his eyes, Ian Smith said his son embraced every day he had given to him following his deadly diagnosis.

“He never got wore down by it. He lived every minute of it.”

Visitation for Ethan is from noon until the funeral hour of 2 p.m. today at Vankirk-Grisell Funeral Home.