When Julian Smith, III was named director of Charleston, South Carolina’s Cooper River Bridge Run 25 years ago, he became a part of a well organized 10k competition. In the early years, the race marked an annual trek across the Cooper River Bridge for some 6,500 avid runners. He lives a life of fitness and wellness, so healthy living was and is high on his priority list. The Charleston native was a natural for the job. Then too, Smith had witnessed the birth of the runner’s race 42 years ago. He has always observed and honored the history of the competition and that’s what makes it a wonderful race today.
Over time, this second of four children would witness a lot of new beginnings. His father, Julian Smith, Jr, inherited Julian E. Smith Plumbing and Heating located at 91 Broad Street in Charleston. His mother Shirley worked at home keeping four youngsters on task. Young Smith attended St. Andrews Highschool, graduated from Baptist College, now Charleston Southern University and used his degree in Business Administration to guide his path in business and in life.
Smith’s Catholic upbringing and experiences on the Charleston Peninsula prepared him for the milestones that he would make and exceed every day. He is a man with vision! That forward approach led him to transform the entire race! Under his leadership, the springtime runner’s competition literally turned into a family affair. The focus became good health for all. It no longer mattered whether you ran or walked the bridge. And finish line times were only important if they counted to the participant. What mattered was that the event had a new kind of legs and it was every body’s race! Smith opened his arms to everyone, and shortly after taking the helm of the contest, parents and children traveled into the Holy City from across the country and the world! Today, some 40 thousand people register to participate. That includes everyone from elite runners who fly in from other countries, to wheelchair competitors. The race standing is impressive. The Cooper River Bridge Run is now the third largest 10k in the United states! The most special of all who take part in the 6.2-mile venture are those who have battled some kind of health challenge. When Smith first took charge, he allowed every organ transplant patient to walk or run the race free of charge and receive the runner’s shirt as a bonus! Today, countless charities enjoy Bridge Run donations. Every year, the list for funding area nonprofits grows longer. Bridge Run records show, charitable support is one of Smith’s mission.
This year, as director of the race, Smith would be classified as one of those who is medically challenged, but continues to boldly run life’s race. He has been diagnosed with Glioblastoma. It’s a debilitating type of brain cancer with outcomes that are sometimes less than optimistic. So, Mr. Smith wears a new hat. He is leading the charge to find answers that could extend the lives of all diagnosed with the disease. He is up for the task and hoping that you’re willing to help. Julian Smith is sponsoring a “Kill Glioblastoma” evening at Charleston’s Medical University of South Carolina. The casual attire evening is free to everyone. Food and beverages will be served and guests will have an opportunity to find out more about the disease and take part in “killing it”. Julian Smith, III still carries huge visions and his outcomes are always promising. Come out and support the October 18 fundraiser for Glioblastoma research.
Learn more about Julian and his goal to raise funds for glioblastoma.
Honor Julian Smith by making a gift to glioblastoma research at Hollings Cancer Center.
MUSC Hollings Cancer Center