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Hometown Hero: Stan Smith

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 7:05 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 7:33 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Stan Smith is known worldwide for the tennis shoe that bears his name.

But on Hilton Head Island, he equally appreciated for two decades of work he has put into the Heritage Classic Foundation that operates the RBC Heritage.

Putting tartan on a Heritage champion for the first time before taking the jacket off for the last time.

“It’s been great to be part of that foundation. We’ve been able to raise so much money for the charities on Hilton Head,” said Stan Smith.

Stan Smith has been an integral part of the Heritage Classic Foundation for more than 20 years, the most famous member of the organization that has contributed roughly $50 million to non-profits across the Lowcountry by operating the RBC Heritage every April.

“It’s been great to see what the tournament can do for the community. And when we lost the sponsor and it looked like we were going to lose the tournament, we had that reserve that we were able to keep the tournament going for another year. Then, of course, RBC jumped in.

The former top-ranked tennis player in the world brought a pro sport expertise to Hilton Head’s professional golf tournament but he has placed his focus on the community over the years through the foundation’s charities and scholarships committees.

“These kids are fantastic. One of the best days of the year is to do the interviews with these kids where we pare it down to 10 or 15 and we select 10. This year we selected 11.

Smith was the Heritage’s co-honorary chairman this year, his last year of eligibility for the foundation having turned 75 in December. But his new emeritus status does not mean he’ll be inactive.

“Yes, I’ll be involved. I’ll still be part of the at-large committee and I’ve been involved with RBC in other ways and it’s been fun to see RBC’s involvement. I’ll be helping out, I guess.”

Just like he always has, a WTOC Community Champion most proud to have helped bring positive change to the community he became part of half a century ago.

“I think the fact that we have been able to help a lot of charities here in a fairly significant way. If you look at the top 10 charities we’ve helped, it’s been hundreds of thousands of dollars. A lot of people are pretty well off her on Hilton Head. But we have a lot of people living under the poverty line. And organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and VIM and so many others are doing such a great job to help those people who are not quite as well off.”

Smith shared chairmanship of the 2022 Heritage with Tom O’Reilly, Hilton Head’s former town manager, who is also receiving emeritus status with the Heritage Classic Foundation.

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