Tanner Smith, center, founder of Tanner's Totes, jokes with NBA players Trey Thompkins, left, and Gani Lawal, all Gwinnett grads, during the taping of ABC's new show "Everyday Health" on Tuesday at the Wesleyan School in Norcross. Tanner's Totes -- started in 2002 by the Wesleyan grad and current Clemson basketball player -- delivers bags full of games and other goodies to children undergoing long-term cancer treatments at hospitals.
Norcross A TV cameraman zoomed in on Madison Winn on Tuesday night, the long arm of a boom mic lurking near her left shoulder. Winn, a brain cancer survivor, delivered her story in front of several hundred gathered in the Wesleyan School's gymnasium, getting a round of applause as she finished.
"It's not about me, it's not about these guys right here," Tanner Smith said to the crowd afterward. "It's about stories like that."
Smith, a former basketball standout at Wesleyan and current player at Clemson University, founded "Tanner's Totes" when he was just 12 years old. Inspired by what he saw when visiting hospitals during his father's cancer treatments, Smith decided to give back. Tanner's Totes has delivered bags full of goodies to children with cancer ever since.
Tuesday's event -- a basketball show featuring former NBA players Mark Price and Gerald Wilkins, as well as local products Trey Thompkins and Gani Lawal -- was meant to raise funds and awareness for the ongoing project. It was all caught on camera for ABC's upcoming show "Everyday Health," host Ethan Zohn hamming it up for the crowd.
"(Smith) asked me to do this and I told him it would be a pleasure," said Lawal, a former Norcross High and Georgia Tech star, and recent draft pick by the NBA's Phoenix Suns. "I just enjoy doing things like this. There's a lot of bogus stuff out there, but this is something that's real."
Added Price, who provided the night's highlight by hitting a half-court shot: "Tanner's done a great job with Tanner's Totes, so we all just support him any way we can."
During the show, audience members paired up with pros for a shooting contest (which Zohn and Thompkins eventually won), played a hoops version of musical chairs and bought T-shirts and raffle tickets for the cause.
After almost 10 years of giving, Smith called Tuesday's high-point "perfect," and somewhere he never thought he would be.
"I thought I'd deliver in Atlanta a little bit," Smith said. "But because of the support we've gotten, it had nothing else to do but grow. Because of all the support we've gotten we couldn't just keep it in Atlanta. Now we're all the way in Hawaii."
TV crews will follow him to Scottish Rite on Wednesday, as he dishes out his most recent round of totes. More than 2,000 bags with games, makeup, cards and, of course, basketballs, have been delivered to hospitals as far away as Hawaii, California, Texas and Michigan.
"Everyday Health" is scheduled to premier in September, and Smith said his episode would likely air in October. He wasn't sure how much money was raised Tuesday.
"No idea," he said. "I'm excited to see what we did get, and I know it will be more than we could imagine."
For more information or to donate, visit www.tannerstotes.com.