Caden MarinAt the Severna Park Community Center’s 2017 gala, Executive Director Gwen Kenealy and the center’s board of directors will honor Stew Smith (left) for his volunteer work with Heroes of Tomorrow.
Local Military Hero Stew Smith Named SPCC Superhero Gala Honoree
While swimming at the Severna Park Community Center (SPCC) in 2003, Stew Smith helped a young man who was trying to perfect a stroke used by Navy SEALs and other special ops training programs. That moment was the catalyst behind the inception of Smith’s Heroes of Tomorrow program, which, for the last 14 years, has provided free physical training for anyone preparing to enter the military, special operations, police and firefighting professions.
When the SPCC hosts the 2017 Superhero Gala on April 8 at Chartwell Country Club, the hero of honor will be Smith, a retired Navy SEAL, fitness expert and author.
With Heroes of Tomorrow, Smith donates more than 600 hours a year, training thousands of young men and women seeking to serve their country and communities. He has written more than 40 fitness books and 800 fitness and military articles on websites such as www.miilitary.com and www.about.com.
Smith said learning of the SPCC honor was akin to walking into a surprise party.
“If you look at previous honorees like Andy Borland (career Severna Park High School coach), Mary Carter (lifelong Severna Park dance teacher), Rev. Terry Schoener (Woods Memorial Church) and Jamie Bragg (UnderArmour),” said Smith, “all of these people are longtime staples of the community.
“I am just truly humbled to be placed alongside the group of previous honorees, and honored and happy people are taking the time out of their schedule to thank me for what I do here in Severna Park,” added Smith.
Over the years, Smith has met some unforgettable people and seen amazing results from those who dedicate themselves to the training.
“Many of these students who come through the program have been on highly publicized missions we all know about, such as Bin Laden, Somalia pirates, hostage rescues, and others we do not know about,” said Smith. “But I have to say, my favorite success stories are not only getting a special operations student from 10 to 20 pull-ups and a 7-minute mile pace to a 6-minute mile pace. Rather, it’s getting the 80-pounds-overweight kid down to height and weight standards so they can pursue a calling of service that they once thought was a pipe dream.
“We have had many 80- to 100-pound weight loss stories who are now serving in the military in various positions, including SEALs and Rangers, SWAT teams and firefighting,” he added.
Smith is quick to express his gratitude to SPCC for allowing him use the facility. “We could not do this as effectively and to the degree of perfection we strive for without the help of the Severna Park Community Center,” he said. “With the assistance of the SPCC, we have taught our students what proper preparation requires for any goal in life. It is a priceless relationship the SPCC gives us. Helping the SPCC to stay open by using the facilities and/or donating to them helps us directly continue our mission of preparing Americans to serve.”
Pete Sheldon, chair of the Severna Park Community Center board of directors, said, “Stew has been a part of the center for many years and we cannot be more proud that he calls SPCC home. He exemplifies taking a passion and making a life out of it. Stew embodies everything the community center stands for and hopes to achieve. We cannot think of a more deserving superhero honoree than Stew Smith.”
The Superhero Gala will include a live auction of items, some with a retail value of more than $4,000. Guests will enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction before dinner, followed by an evening of entertainment, raffles and plenty of surprises.
“The gala is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said SPCC Executive Director Gwen Kenealy. “As we do not receive monies from the government, our fundraising efforts are critical because they supplement revenues and allow us to pay our operating costs and run a wide variety of community programs.”
Kenealy added that proceeds from the annual gala will help cover everything from electricity to pool chemicals, pickleballs to gym lights, a new floor in Holy Grounds to free bridge groups, and to discounted rates for community center patrons.