Making a Difference: Remembering a UW Health nurse taken too soon

Scott and Shannon Smith
Scott and Shannon Smith(NBC15)
Published: May. 8, 2020 at 1:53 PM CDT
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Scott and Shannon Smith's love story was a love story...from the very first page. Reflecting on Shannon, Scott Said, "She had a smile that would light up a room. I knew from the moment I met her it was different."

Recalling their first date, he added, "She was just different. As soon as she walked in, I told myself, sit up straight, get it together. I was trying to be the best version of myself at all times with her...and that's what she brought out in me."

When they met, Shannon was a dedicated E.R. nurse at UW Hospital. Scott said, "She really cared for her patients. She just always tried to do the best, even in difficult circumstances. I admired that in her greatly. He added, “That's just her work ethic and that's just her personality. She, she could take on a lot....and do it better than most. "

An active couple, after meeting in 2013 they ran together, biked together, traveled the world together. They married in August of 2016. Sitting in the chapel of Pres House on the UW-Madison campus, Scott said, “This is where we got married and said our ‘I dos.’ I just think back to standing up on the stage, watching the doors open and seeing her walk in.” With emotion in his voice, Scott added, “This is the first time I’ve been back here. It’s a special place. It always will be.”

Their love story became even more special in April 2018, when Shannon and Scott found out they were expecting. Shannon was about to graduate with a nurse practitioner degree from George Washington University, and would start a new job in that field at UW Health Union Corners (Madison) that coming September. Scott said, “She was going to have a great impact in the Madison community, and this is where we were going to call home.”

They decided to take a trip to Barcelona, Spain in August of 2018—a babymoon, and a chance to spend time together before Shannon began her new job back in Madison.

That’s when the unthinkable happened on a Barcelona street. Scott said, fighting back tears, “On the second day we were there, just walking back to our hotel after dinner…that’s when the accident happened. She was struck by a vehicle and killed. We lost the baby too. There was nothing that could be done. We had one night together. I got to hold him” (the baby, for whom the couple had previously chosen the name Louis).

They had so many wonderful chapters in their love story…and it goes without saying, Scott wanted more. “We had it all. With so much more coming. It’s hard to handle the pain of losing everything that you’ve been working for.”

When Shannon and their baby died, friends and strangers stepped up, donating more than $75,000 to a GoFundMe account in Shannon’s memory. Scott said, “I was blown away by how it had affected people.” Scott has decided to give all of that money away as scholarships to nursing students at UW-Madison School of Nursing. They’ll give away their first scholarship this coming summer—in 2020.

It’s a way to help Scott heal…by remembering a woman who helped others heal--the final chapter in their love story.

Scott said, “We can’t replace the impact she would have had if she were here, but we can certainly make sure that people know who she was. We want to affect as many people as we can in Madison in a positive way. She’s very much still present. Very much.”

If you’d like to find out more about the Shannon Marie and Louis Porter Smith Foundation and/or donate to the scholarship fund Scott has established for UW School of Nursing students,