Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office fosters relationship with Smile-A-Mile

CBS 42 Living Local

This CBS 42 Living Local Feature Segment is sponsored by Jefferson County Sheriff – Mark Pettway.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CBS 42 Living Local) –  Smile-A-Mile Place is located in the city of Birmingham, nestled between Railroad Park and Children’s of Alabama. 

“We always say that even though this building was built in 1913 and was used for something else, it was built for us,” said Development Director, Savannah DeRieux.

Established in 1985, Smile-A-Mile’s mission is to provide hope during the childhood cancer journey for families in Alabama. The non-profit offers support from diagnosis, during treatment, and through the years beyond. 

The nonprofit survives on support from the community. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is an integral part of that support. 

“We are so grateful for the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Department. They have been great friends of ours for years. But really that partnership has grown over the past year,” DeRieux said. 

“I was here just a few weeks ago when they had the annual run. I was able to meet a young lady’s mother who was part of the run last year. Miss Jada Thornton,” said Sheriff Mark Pettway. 

Jada was diagnosed with cancer when she was a child and was part of the Smile-a-Mile family for many years. In 2016, she relapsed and had to have an amputation. As a natural-born athlete, her amputation did not slow her down. 

“She set a goal to run our Monkey See Monkey Run last September (2018). And it was the most incredible sight. She had just gotten her blade lag and she was going to only run maybe a block. She finished the whole 5K,” DeRieux said. 

Shortly after the run, Jayda found out her cancer was terminal and died on January 23.

“Her Smile-A-Mile family was by her side. And her mom, Carolin, who Sheriff Pettway got to meet, is still part of this family,” said DeRieux. 

“Jada was inspirational to the whole community here. She brought a whole new inspiration and a whole new awareness to Smile-A-Mile. That touched me, and made me want to do more,” Pettway said. 

Smile-a-Mile is always seeking the gift of time, talent, and treasure. Visit to see available opportunities to help support the mission. 

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