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Benefit for injured tow truck driver is Oct. 4

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Though he is on the mend, the injuries that Lakes Country Towing owner-operator Mike Smith suffered in a Sept. 9 accident south of Detroit Lakes will continue to have repercussions for his family for some time to come.

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Washington Square Mall manager Dawn Olson, who has been friends with both Smith and his wife, Julie, for many years, said that he had been in the intensive care unit at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis for more than two weeks.

"He's had countless surgeries," Olson said Thursday, noting that the latest one was taking place that afternoon.

With so much time being spent in the hospital, Smith's medical bills have been mounting, Olson noted. To help the family cope, a group of friends -- including Olson -- has formed a committee to organize a benefit fund-raiser for him.

The benefit is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 4, from 4 p.m. to midnight, at the Soo Pass Ranch (site of WE Fest) south of Detroit Lakes.

In addition to a dinner of turkey and pork sandwiches "with all the fixings," at which a free will offering will be taken, Olson said there will also be a silent auction, a raffle, and continuous live entertainment.

"We have great entertainment lined up," she said. The fund-raiser will kick off with a performance by local band Push at 4 p.m., followed by the Front Fenders at 6 p.m., the Elijah Blue Band at 8 p.m., and the Fat Cats at 10 p.m.

"All of them have donated their time and talent for the benefit," Olson added. "We're trying to put together a fun event for people to enjoy themselves and to show their support ... Mike has touched a lot of people in this community, whether through his towing business or socially.

"Everyone knows what a great, positive attitude he has, and we believe he will be able to go back to normal life eventually."

But first, he will have to heal. According to information Olson posted late Thursday on the Caring Bridge Web site (www.caringbridge.org, password MikeSmith1), the surgery went well and Smith's condition has been upgraded slightly. He was moved to the Surgical Trauma Neuro Unit at HCMC.

The most serious injuries were to his left leg, which had to be amputated just above the knee, and a cracked pelvis, Olson noted during the interview. The next step, according to the message she left at Caring Bridge later that night, is to assess his neurological trauma and cognitive abilities.

Smith has had to endure testing and dialysis for 4-6 hours every day, Olson wrote. It's been an exhausting process, both for him and his wife.

"Julie has been at Mike's bedside, day in and day out," Olson said. "I talk to her a couple of times a day at least."

Though the Smiths' children -- the couple shares a blended family of five kids between them -- have all been to visit him at the hospital, for the most part they have resumed their daily school and work activities, Olson added. Mike's parents, Gerry and Marge Smith, have also been by his side as much as possible.

"He's got amazing support from his wife, his family and his friends," Olson said. "He's strong, he's a fighter, and he has a real positive attitude."

The Oct. 4 benefit is open to the public. But if you are unable to attend and would still like to contribute to help alleviate Smith's medical expenses, an account has been established at Bremer Bank. Please send donations to: Mike J. Smith Benefit Account, Bremer Bank, Box 827, Detroit Lakes, MN 56502, or stop in at any Bremer Bank branch in the DL area.

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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