Who Was Gary?

A brief history of Gary

Gary Smith was a healthy, esteemed athlete in his 50s who was a gold-medal winning basketball player in the World Masters Men’s Basketball League and a player on the Canadian National Men’s Basketball team when he was young. He was also a respected high school basketball coach and high school principal.

For more than a decade, Gary suffered from chronic heartburn and remedied it with non-prescription antacids. In December 2005, Gary started suffering from back pain, a symptom that would be diagnosed as esophageal cancer four months later by Dr. Brock Pullen at Royal Columbian Hospital. Sadly, Gary passed away in September 2007 at the age of 60.

What’s new?

The walk is back on! The Fifteenth Annual walk will be on Sunday April 28th 2024 the family will be in the parking lot of Minnekhada Regional Park from 9:00am-1:00pm.

In 2023 we were invited to a dinner put on by the hospital to continue to learn what new projects and initiatives RCH has. We also continued to speak to the hospital representatives about our initiative and what goals we have moving forward. We are very focused on making sure all donations for Gary’sWalk reflect his legacy of continuing to help others.

In August 2022 we visited RCH to see the machine and the plaque they placed on it. We spoke to Dr. Atkinson about how the machine will be used to help patients. If you would like to see pictures, they are on the “Donation Dollars at Work” page.

Purpose of the walk

To visit Gary’s bench and raise money for awareness and screening for esophageal cancer! We encourage you to post pictures to Gary’s Walk Facebook page or on Twitter @GarysWalk or Instagram info@garyswalk.ca of your walk or activity in memory of Gary and raise awareness.

Donating to Gary’s walk is the same. Just go to RCH Foundation or click on Donate on the bar above.

A history of the walk

In April 2010 a memorial bench was placed in the park and that is when the first walk took place. In September 2010 an article about Gary and the walk was included in the Royal Columbian insert in the Vancouver Sun paper. In April 2011 and 2015 articles were in the local paper about the walk. In 2011 over $30,000 was raised for a scope at the Royal Columbian Hospital. In 2014 two gastroscopes were purchased and in 2017 a transnasal scope was purchased. In addition, an information brochure was published with the help of the Royal Columbian Hospital and was distributed at the walk. In 2016 and 2017 a billboard advertising the walk was set up outside the Royal Columbian hospital.

In 2021, RCH purchased an Olympus ESG300 with the generosity of Gary’s Walk supporters. This system is the latest generation of electrosurgical devices designed exclusively for GI and pulmonary, and includes all of the modes and settings required by physicians performing advanced therapeutic procedures including those that may require argon plasma coagulation (APC). In August 2022 we went for a visit to RCH to see how the machine that has been purchased with donation dollars is being used. We also visited with Dr. Atkinson as he explained how it will be helping patients!

Since 2012 supporters of the Gary Smith Cancer Fund have helped raise 149,042.00! THANK YOU!

All current graphics have been created by Kristen Lilian from Spirit and Spark and past graphics were created by Cliff Blank. Thank you!!