But it’s only part of the story. Smythe’s father, James Smythe, was diagnosed with leukemia in October 2005 and died eight months later. As treatment possibilities ran out, the family gathered and asked James what he wanted each of them to do with their lives. He gave them all a two-word answer: “Help people.”
So when the organizers nominated Smythe for woman of the year honors, she gladly accepted. Once nominated, candidates in several categories have 10 weeks to raise as much money as possible. The individual who raises the most money in each category receives the award. Smythe quickly gathered a committee of her old Xavier pals, one of whom donated a web site to her cause, and began campaigning. Her friends at National City pitched in, as did many of her father’s friends.
In the end, Smythe set a women’s record, raising more than $50,000—34 percent of which came from Xavier supporters. But going into the event, she still had no idea whether she won. “I was a nervous wreck,” she says. “I put so much work into it. It took up all my free time. I wanted to do well. It was all in memory of my dad. This is something he would have done.”