Natalie Cohen Smith lives in Bethesda, Maryland. This year, she is serving as Gala Chair of the LUNGevity Musical Celebration of Hope in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 2019. Her late husband, Joey Smith, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in his early 20s and passed away in 2016 at the age of 33. She serves as Gala Chair as a heartfelt, meaningful way for her to pay tribute to Joey. Currently, Natalie is Senior Vice President of Consero Group, a Bethesda-based company that brings senior executives together to build relationships and gain insights through uniquely intimate networking and learning opportunities.
How did you first get involved with LUNGevity as a fundraiser?
My late husband, Joey Smith, met Jerry Sorkin (the founder of the Breathe Deep DC Annual Walk) during chemo at Johns Hopkins, and it was Jerry who introduced us to the charity. We got involved in the annual walks and the gala, really enjoying being part of a community that represented so much strength and hope.
Why did you choose to fundraise for LUNGevity in particular?
LUNGevity is an organization that was near and dear to Joey’s heart. Understandably, LUNGevity’s mission to accelerate research into early detection and more effective treatments, as well as to provide community, support, and education for all those affected by the disease, resonated with him.
This year I am honored to chair Lungevity‘s Musical Celebration of Hope Gala in DC to carry the torch on his behalf and continue to fight lung cancer.
What impact do you hope your fundraising efforts will make?
When Joey received his stage IV diagnosis at age 23, at the time I couldn’t understand how a young, active nonsmoker could possibly be in this position. But it wasn’t long before I realized that lung cancer does not discriminate—and it can happen to anyone. I hope that my fundraising efforts will raise funds and awareness about this disease as lung cancer research does not receive the appropriate amount of resources and funding.
What gives you hope?
In the nearly ten years that Joey lived with the disease, we saw significant advances made in lung cancer research and treatment: from general chemotherapy and surgery options to more targeted therapies and medications with fewer side effects. Today, we continue to see progress, and I am hopeful, as Joey was, that a cure is in sight.
LUNGevity Spotlight is a way to highlight people living with lung cancer, caregivers, volunteers, and fundraisers who are making a positive impact in the LUNGevity community. We hope that their stories will inspire and encourage many more to get involved.
If you know someone in the LUNGevity community whom you'd like us to Spotlight, please nominate them here.