Rachel Smith is more than a survivor. Twenty-five years after suffering sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 33, she is celebrating life by walking over 500 miles through France and Spain to complete the Camino de Santiago, one of the most important Christian pilgrimages since the Middle Ages. This September, she will begin her journey in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in southwestern France, and finish at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. She hopes to cover the distance in approximately 6 weeks. Rachel is embarking on this “amazing pilgrimage to commemorate by the Grace of God (as you understand that) I was given another chance to experience what life has to offer, including the really challenging stuff.”
Rachel stresses that it’s not just a walk. It’s spiritual. For Rachel, her cardiac arrest was a wake-up call. “For most of my teenage life and early ‘20s I did not respect my body. I didn’t give it what it really needed to support my highest and best potential,” she says. Rachel published a book detailing her sudden cardiac arrest called Sudden Death: a Survivor’s Story. She credits her father, who passed away in January, for inspiring her to take up running, make healthy changes, and deal with some of her issues that were holding her back. Despite having an implanted cardiac defibrillator and still suffering some visual impairment from her near-death experience, Rachel feels confident she can complete the 500-plus miles, accompanied by her good friend Clair Stephenson. “I’ve already died,” she states. “I really want to do this. It’s going to be awesome.”!
Rachel’s goals are not only spiritual in nature. She also hopes to raise funds for three causes dear to her heart: SAFE, Inc. of Transylvania County, Unity of the Blue Ridge and the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association. Rachel asks that rather than sponsor her walk directly, people who wish to show their support donate to whichever of these organizations touches them. As a long-time volunteer at SAFE, and as a survivor of abusive relationships in the past, Rachel know the struggles victims of domestic and sexual abuse go through. SAFE is honored to have been chosen as one of Rachel’s worthy recipients. Thank you, Rachel. You are a dear friend and inspiration.
To donate to SAFE in honor of Rachel Smith and her amazing will to survive, thrive, and motivate others, please use the secure link below. You may donate via PayPal or credit card. Or if you prefer, you may mail a check to SAFE, Inc. at PO Box 2013, Brevard, NC 28712, or drop in to our office at 515 North Broad Street, Suite 1, Brevard.
Donate to SAFE in honor of Rachel here:
Follow Rachel's amazing journey on her Facebook page.
Thank you, on behalf of SAFE, Rachel, and the unseen victims of violence in our community whom you will be helping.