It was a typical Saturday in Montrose a few days before the summer solstice.
Michael Smith took his son to Walmart for some weekend shopping.
What was supposed to be an ordinary Saturday in western Colorado turned out to be a parents worst nightmare.
All of a sudden, Michael and Misty Smiths 7-year-old son, Braiden, collapsed.
Shocked, terrified, confused. Those are just a few adjectives that described a distraught Misty Smith on the telephone.
Braiden Smith was rushed to Montrose Memorial Hospital. The young lad had recently recovered from an ear infection. Unfortunately, in this instance, it wasnt a previous illness reoccurring.
It was the unimaginable. It was cancer.
Just like that, Braiden Smith was carted out on a stretcher and lifted onto a helicopter for a trip to Denver Childrens Hospital.
Everything happened rather quickly, Misty Smith said. He seemed fine to us. He seemed normal. We didnt really know what was going on. We were scared.
Two days later, Braiden was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. AML is a cancer that causes abnormal growth of white blood cells that build up in bone marrow.
Instead of grabbing a bat, ball and mitt to kick off the summer, Braiden Smith was in a hospital bed, poked with IV needles preparing for chemotherapy.
The shy, young soft-spoken Colorado Rockies fan. Was faced uncertainty. Would he ever be able to play his favorite sport again?
For his parents, there were the gamut of emotions.
This cant be happening to us, said Misty Smith. There was a lot of anger. We were just frustrated that it happened to our son. It was basically a big shock.
Braiden endured the beginning stages of chemotherapy. Then came the nausea, vomiting, pain and discomfort, some pulmonary edema. But the 7-year-old fought on.
For the most part, hes been a trouper, Braidens mother said.
Misty and Braiden Smith remained in Denver during their sons second cycle of chemotherapy.
It seemed to work.
Braidens body has responded to the treatment.
The doctors dont see any cancerous cells in his bone marrow. Its now a matter of rebuilding Braidens immune system.
They say hes doing as well as they expect him to be, Misty Smith said. Hes following their guidelines and everything. They dont think hes going to have to have a bone marrow transplant.
Braiden Smith has more chemo cycles ahead and hell have to continually see doctors the next five years for checkups.
Will Braiden Smith get to hit home runs? Catch fly balls? Slide into second base and dive for line drives in the outfield?
Only time will tell, but doctors are optimistic.
Strong support has helped the Smith family over the past couple months.
Its amazing how many people have stepped up to help us, Misty Smith said. I cant really put into words how grateful we are.
Much of the support has generated from Misty and Michaels hometown of Cortez and the region.
Smith family cousin Bill McCoy, of Dolores, is putting on a 24-hour charity softball tournament Aug. 25 to the 26, at the Cortez Softball Complex.
All proceeds for Braidens All Nighter Softball Tournament go toward the Smiths family medical expenses, which are at an estimated $1 million.
Its not just because its family. Its simply about the cause.
Itd be nice to have a fundraiser and help them out a little bit, and I know a lot of people like to play softball, McCoy said. I felt in my heart that this was a good cause for a 7-year-old little boy.
McCoy plans to run more sports fundraising events in the future, especially if a 24-hour softball tournament hits a home run of success.
Support for an ill Montrose child has stretched across the Western Slope.
Hopefully, there will soon be a softball tournament celebrating a triumphant Braiden Smith.