Local teenager suffers from brain tumor, but gives back

HARRIMAN, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Ethaniel Smith was just like any other music loving teen at band camp.

"We were doing breathing exercises on concrete and I passed out and hit my head and got a concussion," said Ethaniel Smith, who has a brain tumor. "When I came back that night my mom took me to Tennova."

It was a parent's worst nightmare.

Renae Smith, Ethaniel's mom

"I talked to his pediatrician after his cat scan in June," said Renae Smith, Ethaniel's mom. "She sent us to Children's for the MRI, they did the MRI, and we left, and she called 15 minutes later to let us know they did find something."

It was a rare form of brain cancer that her 16 year old son is trying to wrap his head around.

"It's just hard," said Ethaniel.

Even in some of the darkest hours, Ethaniel looks to brighten the lives of other kids.

"He likes to give back to others," said Renae. "Three days after his brain surgery, he dressed up as a chicken and walked around children's hospital because that's how he is."

Being chicken isn't a weakness for Ethaniel. With several birds at home, he see's them as a source of strength to help him and others through the pain.

"They thought it was funny and they liked it," said Ethaniel. "One of the nurses thought I was somebody who was paid to be there."

Now friends and neighbors are helping to ease the strain on this family. They are holding a Brainzmatter Benefit.

"It's crazy because I never expected people that I don't know stepping in, whether it's a thought or a prayer or an ear to talk to, it's been amazing," said Renae.

True to Ethaniel's spirit, he asks anyone to come by with an unwrapped toy for kids suffering like him.

"I'm obviously not the only one going through things like this right now," said Ethaniel. "There's other people who are and it's just good helping other people who are possibly having a worse time than I am."

The Brainzmatter Benefit will be December 9th at noon located at Colonial Heights United Methodist Church. If you'd like to donate, call 865-951-4451.