The Christopher Smith Foundation was created to honor and support the work of caregivers. Caregiving services are essential to a caring, loving community that includes all of its members, including people who are ill, elders, and people with disabilities. Linda Smith, the founder of CSF, is a disability advocate whose work was inspired by the life of her son Christopher. Indeed, the Foundation aims to give back to those who cared for Chris and encourage others to enter the caregiving professions and perform these necessary services.
Linda Smith started as an artist, singer, entertainer, and mother. When she gave birth to Christopher, she encountered many people – including professionals – who advised her to leave her son behind. Instead, she became a non-profit fundraiser, author, and public speaker who has raised millions of dollars for charity in Las Vegas.
“Some people say the birth of a child with a disability is a family tragedy, an occasion that devastates the family, takes them down a road less traveled, and may even hold family members from achieving their goals. Yes, parts of this can often be true, but from my perspective, bringing a special needs child into the family unit can also spark a kind of family joy and unity that is most unexpected as the family comes together with love,” Linda says. “The one person in my life who has always been a source of inspiration, strength, and growth is my son, Christopher.”
Because Christopher was rarely able to speak for himself, Linda recognized just how important it was to surround him with loving caregivers. “It wasn’t easy to learn about the many physical problems Chris would endure throughout his lifetime. In addition to his intellectual disability, Chris could not communicate his feelings, and most of his pains and illnesses went unaddressed. Not being able to communicate ‘where it hurts,’ meant constant prodding and testing as the healthcare professionals did their best to work in the dark with an often uncooperative patient,” she says.
After spending so much time in hospitals and other care facilities, Linda and her family were struck by the need to provide care to caregivers, especially those who provided loving, inclusive services to patients who might be considered “difficult” or who could not advocate for themselves.
Linda’s work with the Christopher Smith Foundation was inspired by her unbreakable love for her son. Even in the last moments of his life, his caregivers were there in spirit. “I whispered through tears, that he should go now so that he could watch over all of us from heaven, and that his Canadian, American and British family are so proud of all that he has accomplished. I told him all of his friends, and especially his caregivers and best buddies, Sonny and Raquel, will miss him so very much,” she recalls.
Today, Christopher lives on through the work of the Foundation, and Linda continues to express her love for her son as a disability advocate and humanitarian. As she says, “Christopher and his heart are one of a kind; we need more like him.”