SPRINGFIELD — Darrell “Smitty” Smith, disabled veteran and owner of “Smitty’s Midwest Boxing Gym” reacts to the community helping him out during a tough time.
In a follow-up story KOLR10 brought you last month, a local disabled veteran is fighting to keep his boxing gym, after he was faced with paying back the military nearly $15,000, and things are looking up for him now.
Darrell Smith, more affectionately known as “Smitty”, was given separation pay nearly 25 years ago in an amount of about $15k.
Once he became fully disabled, that money turned into a loan. The military is taking all of his disability checks in full until it is paid. His beloved gym was in peril, and the community responded in a big way.
At the time of this story, Smith had reached about $10,000 on his gofundme.com account.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that I am going to reach my goal,” says Smith. “We are going to be able to keep the gym open.”
Fearing he would lose his boxing gym, “Smitty” found out he had an army of people in his corner.
“If you want to see an 82nd Airborne Division soldier break down, I broke down a few days ago. I was so overwhelmed with happiness from the community,” Smith says. “I’d give each and every single person a hug. I’d love you if I could, and God bless you if I could. I don’t even know all the donors.”
On Friday, Smith met one of his donors face-to-face. It was an old high school track teammate of his from Hillcrest High School, Wiley Buchanan.
“I came in here today because I work at a place pretty close to here and found out what Smitty is doing here and the impact he is having on a lot of kids,” Buchanan says. “I just wanted to be a part of helping him through this difficult time that he has so he can stay open and continue to have that impact on kids lives.”
That impact isn’t just felt between the ropes, as Smitty requires a “B” average for his students to train with him. That gets Buchanan’s attention.
“There is just absolutely no way that a kid can succeed without having some sort of positive direction, some sort of positive guidance in their life,” says Buchanan.
Smith could not be more humbled.
“If I was to die tomorrow, I would hope that I left this world knowing that I made all the friends I could make, and that I made a difference in somebody’s life some way some how,” Smith says.
Smitty will not receive a disability check from the military until July 1st. He has not raised his rates at the boxing gym.