Don’t miss this year’s Dining by Design and support breast cancer awareness and research. At noon on Thursday, November the 12th the Casa de Amistad in Harlingen will be open for patrons who will have a chance to admire lavishly decorated themed dining tables while enjoying light refreshments and hors d’oeuvres in the company of friends for a $25 donation to the American Cancer Society. This year the number of themed tables broke an all time record, so this event will  not only be an enjoyable one,  but a significant contribution to women’s health. It is also an important time to remember and honor those who lost the battle and celebrate their lives like in the case of Laurie C. Smith who is at the center of my story.  A special thank you to Beyond Arts Magazine for the opportunity to contribute my stories.

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” ― Shannon L. Alder

During a recent hot summer afternoon, Walker and Graham Smith sat with us to share stories about their late mother Laurie C. Smith. Laurie succumbed to cancer over a decade ago and will be one of the people whose legacy will be honored during the upcoming annual Dining by Design event in Harlingen to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The rollercoaster of emotions that a trip down memory lane can be, surfaced when the Smiths recalled the time in the year 2000 when their mother Laurie was diagnosed with breast cancer. “My mother was a strong and healthy woman. The diagnosis took us by surprise, for she always took care of herself and never postponed annual checkups,” said Walker. It was not an easy time for either of them. Walker had just married and Graham was preparing to leave home to attend college. Their first thought was to postpone a honeymoon trip and education goals, but Laurie would not have it; she insisted they should go on with their lives, for she would be just fine. “She never dwelled in her bad situation. She wanted everybody to know she was OK. She was the rock in our family,” Graham said.

Laurie adored her pet dogs and looked forward to every Christmas Eve when she would oversee every detail for a memorable celebration she shared with family and friends. The event became a tradition Graham continues to this day. Walker shared fun stories of the times he and Laurie managed a landscaping business. Her contagious drive and resilience in the face of adversity never bowing down to despair left an indelible mark on her children; her living legacy.

For several years, Laurie was a dedicated volunteer supporting Dining by Design’s goal of raising money for cancer research, patient support and treatment.  She served on the organizing committee and designed dazzling tables for the event. Like her, professional designers and design enthusiasts select a theme and spare no expense or obstacle to create amazingly lavish vignettes for all to enjoy. Patrons pay $25 each to admire these tables during the early afternoon event. In the evening, designers partake in a formal dinner at their table with their friends. In November of 2002, Laurie did not allow her failing health to deter her from completing what was to be her last contribution to Dining by Design. She passed away on January of 2003 at the age of 52 leaving her husband and three sons with immeasurable despair.

And so the history of Dining by Design unfolds. In the battle against cancer, some survive and others perish, but not without leaving a legacy worth sharing.  There are also others who simply want to help.  “Because the pain of seeing our friends and loved ones lose their lives to cancer is unacceptable when each and every one of us has the power to make a difference.  Taking action and raising money ensures that someday we will find the cure and never have to endure this pain again,” said committee co-chairman Pam Smith.   “Each member who serves on the Dining by Design committee has a personal reason, but it is this common factor that binds us and motivates us to work hard to focus on our goal.”

When it comes to Laurie, her legacy does not end with remarkable stories, for she inspired the creation of the Laurie C. Smith Breast Health Endowment – Screening Mammogram Assistance for Women. In 2004, Laurie’s friends and family partnered with Valley Baptist Foundation and raised $25,000 to establish an endowment that would honor her legacy of love and compassion.

Laurie’s loving legacy continues with her growing family. “We are who we are because of her influence,” said Graham. They will always remember her, yet Laurie will never meet her grandchildren. She will not have the opportunity to play with them, nor will she be able to advise her sons on matters of the heart, family and life. “When I hear people complaining about their mothers, all I can think of is what I would give to hear her voice again. To be able to call her and ask her for advice, and to watch her play with my children,” said Walker not without tears in his eyes. For Graham, who will soon become a father, the fact that Laurie will not be there to welcome his newborn child into the world is something he has difficulty coping with. “After all these years, I still miss her so much,” he said.  If legacies are etched in people’s minds by the stories shared, then there is no doubt Laurie’s legacy will prevail in ours.

Dining by Design will be held on November 12, 2015 at the Casa de Amistad in Harlingen. To find out more follow them on or visit