• Marci Shadd

Amy Smith, Author

Updated: Dec 3, 2019

What do you do when you have a story to share? Well if you are Amy Smith you write a children’s book! Fearless and loving, this local mom has found a way to bring awareness to the challenges and trials that families with special needs children face day to day. I am proud to call her one of my friends, and there is no one with whom I would trust more when navigating the New York Subway system. Enjoy!

My adventures in Biggs began in 1977 when my parents along with my siblings moved to a 15- acre property just outside of town. I was 5 years old and in first grade attending Biggs Elementary School. It didn’t take long and we were running up and down Rio Bonito Rd. to play with our first friends, the Orme family! Living on a small farm we played in our barn, jumped on the hay, rode our bikes, swam in our pool, played in the ditches and more. It was a very adventurous childhood that I am thankful to have experienced.

I had to share this great image of Amy walking at 8th grade graduation with my hot hubby!

High school was full of great memories. Friday nights in the fall were so exciting as I spent all 4 years on the side lines cheering for the undefeated wolverine football team. Winter sports were fun as I competed with the Lady Wolverine basketball team. We were led by Coach Del Kalbach for 4 years. So many valuable lessons were learned on the basketball court. I was pushed harder than I had ever been pushed in my life and I attribute my work ethic today to my coach. He believed in me more than I believed in myself! Spring was back to the outdoors with softball, baseball and track. I graduated in 1990 (High and Mighty Class of 90). Biggs High School was a special place and being a Wolverine was something to be proud of!

My Senior year of high school I started dating the boy that I stabbed with a pencil in 4th grade for turning around in his chair and bugging me. In my defense, I warned him I would do it if he didn’t stop. Thank goodness Travis forgave me and we dated for 5 years before getting married in 1994. With my marriage to Travis came an amazing group of people, my in-laws!

From the day I started dating Travis they have treated me like a member of the family. I am so thankful for their love and support. Without them we would be lost! Our first boy came in 1998 nine months after I graduated from Physical Therapy Assistant school. Brenden was a blond hair, blue eyed, football loving boy. He was 3 ½ when our second son, Tanner, was born. It wasn’t long before we realized that Tanner was different. He was late with every developmental milestone and at a year old his pediatrician referred us to UC Davis Mind Institute for evaluation. None of the specialists could figure out exactly what was wrong. When he was 6 years old, he underwent some genetic testing that identified that he was missing 12-15 genes on his 3rd chromosome. There is no diagnosis for this deletion but at least we knew why he has the medical issues and developmental delays that he has experienced growing up. When Tanner was 5 years old and attending Kindergarten at Biggs Elementary School, we decided to have one more child. Our youngest boy, Brady, was born in April of 2007.

In 2003, we purchased my Grandma & Grandpa Bagley’s property, which is adjacent to the home I grew up in. I looked forward to giving my kids the same childhood experiences that I have treasured.

Biggs has been the perfect place to raise our 3 boys providing a variety of experiences. Living on a walnut orchard and being surrounded by rice fields, our boys learned the work that is involved with farming. They have been involved with 4-H & FFA, raising animals to take to the fair. They have participated in sports while growing up including youth football, Little League, flag football, and basketball. As they got to high school the sports continued

including Special Olympics for Tanner. They participated in Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts with my oldest earning his Eagle Scout rank. They have learned leadership through the school ASB. They attended youth group at our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-

Day Saints with many opportunities to serve and are a part of the Biggs Methodist Church family where they have attended and helped with Vacation Bible School and more. Events like the hanging of the greens, Christmas Eve service and all the other traditional events held have taught them many valuable lessons about tradition and community. These

opportunities have and continue to help them to be very well-rounded individuals.

Several times as Tanner was growing up, I thought about writing a book. Originally, I thought it would be a short novel about my experiences being his mom. When my oldest son graduated high school and headed to college, I decided it was time to get serious about writing this book. The more I thought about it I decided that a children’s book would be a better way to express myself. I developed the character “Terrific Tanner” based on my son. The book is not a masterpiece but hopefully people who read it understand that I am a mom with a story, not an experienced author. Our message is that even when you are faced with challenges, you can be terrific. Tanner and I went around to schools, street fairs and special events. It’s been a great way to talk with people and share our story. I look forward to publishing future books and am excited about developing more opportunities to serve others through our Terrific Tanner mission.

A few things that I have learned this far in my life is everything happens for a reason and how we respond to our challenges will dictate what we gain from the experience. Having a special needs child has been stressful but having his sweet spirit in our home outweighs any stress it has caused. Second, try to live every day to its fullest because you never know when it’s your last. Third, there is always something to be thankful for and lastly, losing yourself in the service of others will always be more rewarding for the person giving service than for the one receiving service.

Today, my oldest son Brenden attends Southern Virginia University where he is playing football and majoring in Business. He spent 2 years in Merida, Mexico serving a mission for our church where he learned valuable lessons about how to live a happy life when you have very little and became fluent in Spanish. Tanner just graduated Biggs High School and looks forward to waving goodbye to all of us this fall as we leave for work and school. If you drive by our property you might see him driving his lawn mower around the orchard mowing, whether it need’s it or not! Brady is entering the 7th grade and is a fun, energetic, & loving boy. Our front yard turned into a dirt bike track, we have a fort hidden in the corner of our property and a basketball court in our barn. It’s my life as a mom of adventurous boys!

Biggs has blessed us with many friendships. Most of them being from our years in school. They are the kind of friends you can call on and they would drop everything to help. Every gathering is filled with stories from our past that have us all laughing like they happened yesterday. I am thankful that my best friends, from grade school, Amber & Rachelle, are still my best friends today! We have shared in each other’s major events from the birth of our children, weddings, graduations and more. Life is better when you can share it with friends!

When I think about everything that I have been blessed with, I can’t help but look to the people of this community who have loved our family. I am amazed at how wonderful the kids at school have treated Tanner. We have never had to worry because he was always being looked after. The kids included him and treated him with patience and love. Whether it was supporting our kids in a fundraiser, saying prayers for Tanner during one of his medical issues, coaching or teaching our children or just simply smiling and waving as we drive by, we have been blessed by living in this little town. There is good and bad to small town living, but I wouldn’t change what our family has experienced while living here. Biggs is our home and we will forever be grateful to this community for everything they have given to our family.

I know that Amy has plans in motion to write additional books and self help materials. You can read more about Tanner on the links below!

Terrific Tanner Website

Terrific Tanner on Facebook

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