Ronald McDonald House Dedicates Court To Conrad Smith
Photo: Pictured above, from left, Timberwolves and Lynx President Chris Wright, Conrad's wife Carla, and their children Christine, Tara and Brenton, pose next to the plaque honoring Conrad at the Ronald McDonald House Charities
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Conrad Smith spent much of his life dedicating his time toward helping others. One of his passions was helping at the Ronald McDonald House, where families often face difficult challenges while their young children battle difficult illnesses.
Now, Smith’s legacy with the Ronald McDonald House Charities is solidified through another one of his passions—a basketball court.
The Ronald McDonald House dedicated their newly-remodeled gymnasium in memory of Smith, the Lynx’s longtime Chief Operating Officer who passed away in January, during a May 16 ceremony. The organization welcomed Smith’s family, Timberwolves and Lynx President Chris Wright and members of the team’s staff to help celebrate the life of a man who gave back so much to the community.
Smith’s wife, Carla, and their three children—Tara, Christine and Brenton—were all on hand for the dedication.
It’s a gesture that Ronald McDonald House President and Chief Executive Officer John Stanoch said was initially discussed the day of Smith’s funeral, as he and a group of colleagues thought through ideas that might help permanently recognize Smith’s legacy of contributing to their organization.
The Timberwolves and Lynx helped renovate the Ronald McDonald House’s gymnasium prior to the 2012-13 season, equipped with signage dedicated to the two franchises on the court and walls. Stanoch said it was fitting to link Smith with the gymnasium given his longtime affiliation with the Wolves, Lynx and Ronald McDonald House.
Stanoch discussed the idea with Wolves Vice President of Communications and Chief Marketing Officer Ted Johnson as well as Smith’s family, getting the OK to move forward. RMHC unveiled an “In Memory Of Conrad Smith” plaque outside the gymnasium.
“Conrad gave so much to Ronald McDonald House Charities and helped to strengthen our strong relationship with the Timberwolves organization,” Stanoch said. “We are forever grateful for his support of the families we serve. The Plaque outside our gymnasium will serve as a permanent reminder of all he did for the RMHC families and allow us to honor him forever.”
Smith was a longtime member of the Twin Cities professional Sports community, having been a member of the Minnesota Strikers, North Stars, Twins, Timberwolves and Lynx since 1986. Over nearly three decades, the two worked closely together and developed a deep friendship. Wright said he knows how much Smith cared for helping others, particularly kids in need, and he said being able to solidify his legacy at the Ronald McDonald House is a great way to showcase that.
He said it was incredible to see Smith’s life’s work really come to life.
“He was a person who always put other people first,” Wright said. “And it was his sort of mantra. It’s interesting walking into a gym and seeing the teams’ logos displayed on the walls—they’ve got a huge panorama and a display of exciting moments at Target Center and displays of our players—and knowing that was really all Conrad. He saw the needs these kids had, when they’re done with their treatments, they’re done with the day of work having to go tackle the incredible diseases they’re facing. They need some relief. That’s why he encouraged us and many others in the market place to help.”
Smith cared deeply about making an impact, and now his name will forever be linked with the Ronald McDonald House in a part of their campus that inspires hope. The gymnasium will be a place moving forward where children and their families can gather and have fun, taking a break from the challenges that might await them.
“For him, it was all about kids being able to live their lives really well because they were healthy,” Wright said. “That’s why he loved the [Ronald McDonald] House, that’s why he got so involved. … That’s bricks and mortar that will memorialize Conrad forever.”
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