After a cancer diagnosis, friends plan benefits for Grand Forks woman who quietly impacted her community

Nov. 17—GRAND FORKS—For years, Seanna Smart has quietly served the Grand Forks community. She was a long-time obstetrics nurse at Altru, is involved in the ministry of the HOPE church and has helped others through home care. Now a group of his close friends are hoping to rally community support to give back to Smart.

In September, Smart was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. To help financially support Smart and her family through the coming months of treatment and recovery, a group of about 10 friends organized the Seanna Strong Benefit, which takes place at the Alerus Center beginning at 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 19. The event will include a pasta dinner, silent and live auction, live music and more.

Katie Langerud, a longtime friend of Smart’s, hopes the financial assistance generated by the benefit will relieve some of the stress of cancer treatment for Smart and her family. Smart’s husband, Scot, works as a firefighter in Grand Forks and her three children Brody (15), Adley (12) and Emree (9) all go to school in Grand Forks.

“Financially it’s going to be tough and if you can take that away from someone having to worry about it, life just seems a little bit easier,” she said.

The Smart family has always lived in Grand Forks, and through her work as a nurse and home health aide, Smart has impacted the lives of many others in the community, Langerud said.

“She always gives so much to others throughout her career,” Langerud said.

Smart is also deeply involved in her religious community. Friend Nicole Morris met Smart at HOPE Church in Grand Forks and their families grew close over the years. She says everyone Smart meets is treated with the same care.

“His presence is really what impacts the community and the people,” she said. “She loves people, she loves talking to people and she loves serving people.”

For Smart, the root of his service has always been living a life of benevolence.

“Kindness can go so far because you never know what someone is going through,” Smart said. “I’m very, very passionate about this, long before this cancer deal.”

Langerud, along with Bonnie Hillerud and other close friends of Smart, have been planning Saturday’s performance for months, networking and reaching out to local businesses for donations of auction items.

Hillerud says seeing the support from other community members when they heard Smart’s story was eye-opening.

“We live in an ugly world, and the beauty that comes out of it with how much people actually care about it has been amazing,” Hillerud said.

Ahead of the benefit, Friends of Smart gathered 75 silent auction baskets, 30 live auction items and 15 raffle items from thousands of dollars in donations from businesses and individuals in the Grand Forks community and beyond.

“It was amazing,” Hillerud said. “Especially when they don’t even really know her. It’s just something that’s amazing to me.”

Smart says she’s impressed with the hard work her friends and community at large have come together to support her.

“The upside isn’t even there, but I’ve seen the pieces come together and heard some of the things they’ve talked about, and I’m just in pure gratitude,” she said. .

So far, the cancer treatment is going well, says Smart. She gives credit to her family, her support system and her faith, and is determined not to let cancer define her.

“I would never capitalize the word ‘cancer’,” she said. “I don’t care if it’s at the start of a sentence and the grammar is wrong for me, no punctuation, I won’t because I’ll never give it that power.”

Through cancer treatment, Smart is still striving to spread kindness and help others along her journey. She says she is interested in starting a cancer support group in Grand Forks for other people with cancer and cancer survivors.

Prior to his cancer diagnosis, his family moved to a farm outside of town and eventually plans to build a barn that will serve as a space for youth in the community to gather, learn and grow in faith.

“That’s our plan of action going forward – to be able to serve the community,” she said. “My husband and I love kids, so we’re really looking forward to this coming to fruition.

The benefit for Smart is Saturday, November 19 from 3-11 p.m. at the Alerus Center. In addition to the silent auction, live auction and pasta food, the benefit will also include a photo booth, kids’ activities and raffle tickets. More information about the benefit can be found on the

Seanna Strong Advantage

Facebook event page.

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