Sherri Graves Smith

Prior to becoming an author of children’s books, Sherri Graves Smith joined The Coca-Cola Company’s Legal Division as an attorney in November 2000. After taking an overseas assignment as Assistant Division Counsel for Coca-Cola Ltd. in Toronto, Canada, Sherri was being considered for a three-year position in Vienna, Austria. Her career came to an abrupt halt after a routine visit to the doctor revealed that Sherri had cancer. In November 2007, at the age of 36, Sherri was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and immediately began an aggressive course of treatments that included chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

Presently, Sherri is continuing in her battle against cancer which has been diagnosed as a chronic condition, which means she will be on chemotherapy the rest of her life. On her current regimen, she infuses every Monday and takes chemotherapy pills twice daily four days a week. Getting better is a full-time job but Sherri reaches out to others.

Prior to her illness, Sherri volunteered at homeless shelters and schools tutoring children to read. In addition to tutoring, she was an active participant in urban Atlanta schools and taught law courses in order to encourage youth to seek careers in the law.

In 2010, Sherri’s former manager at The Coca-Cola Company suggested reading to his children at their school as a way of being able to work with children. She began reading to children again, and it motivated her to become an author. Sherri has more than 40 titles licensed by professional and college sports teams that teach good sportsmanship.

In addition to writing, Sherri participates in philanthropic work. She noticed that many of the cancer patients were facing dire financial straits as a result of undergoing treatments. Problems ranged from filing for bankruptcy to skipping treatments due to the inability to pay for gas and parking. Working with the Legal Department of The Coca-Cola Company, she has helped raise over $400,000 for the Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) organization that helps cancer patients in the Atlanta metropolitan area who are in need of financial assistance.

On September 25, 2013, the American Society of Radiation Oncology awarded Sherri the Survival Circle Award for 2013 for her contributions to the Atlanta cancer community. The Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society presented the award to her at a ceremony attended by 11,000.

In January 2014, Sherri was named the 2013 Author of the Year by her publisher, Mascot Books. She was recognized for her superior achievements in storytelling and writing and a demonstrated passion for literature. Mascot Books donated $1000 in her name to the Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation.

In March 2014, Sherri was honored as the first winner of the Tuscumbia Education Foundation Hall of Fame. This award is for graduates of the Tuscumbia, Alabama school system who have exemplified excellence in their careers and in the community.

Unwittingly, in the past six years, Sherri’s life has gone from being a corporate attorney to being an author and philanthropist working with a cancer organization in the Atlanta area. Somehow, she finds the energy to do this while currently taking some form of chemotherapy five days a week.

Reading and literacy are important to Sherri on a very personal level, because it impacted her family on a generational level. She grew up in a small town in north Alabama not 20 miles from where her maternal grandmother’s ancestors were slaves. Her grandmother went to school until the 6th grade at the slave church. She wanted more of an education and moved to her older brother and his family’s home so she could go to high school. She graduated salutatorian from high school, graduated from college and became a teacher. Her maternal grandfather came from equally humble beginnings but achieved a college education and became a chemist. They sent all four of their children to college. Her mother taught music and middle school for many years.

Sherri’s paternal grandfather was born in the mid-1800s and became a fireman on the railroad. He never learned to read or write. Her paternal grandmother was very educated, however, and read him three newspapers every day. All six of their children went to college. Her father is a retired Lieutenant Colonel. These influences impacted Sherri and her siblings. Her sister is a professor and her brother is a general counsel of a hospital system. Reading makes a difference. Their lives would not be the same without that influence.

Many people think cancer is a death sentence. Sherri has proved otherwise and has re-invented her life, which now revolves around writing, literacy and philanthropy, in addition to a lifelong sentence of chemotherapy.