"I want to meet 10,000 strangers," says project organizer Matthew Ross Smith, a Fairmount resident whose goal is to collect short remembrances and bits of wisdom from one million contributors nationwide. He's so far raised $5,000 to help fund the cross-country trip.
An educator, musician and writer, Ross Smith, 30, founded SBYF in 2009 to honor his beloved grandfather, William B. McNamee, a Drexel Hill orthopedic surgeon who died of Alzheimer's disease. McNamee told his grandson that the disease would ultimately make them "strangers" to each other.
SBYF promotes awareness of Alzheimer's in part by enabling people of all ages to share a favorite memory with a physical as well as a digital archive. Ross Smith also films some contributors, including one unforgettable testament to the power of music (video below).
The public is invited to the tour's kickoff event at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 28 at the central branch of the Philadelphia Free Library, on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Accompanied by longtime collaborator Phillip Le, who will shoot video, Ross Smith plans to leave Philadelphia in his '98 Volvo on July 30.
First stop: A senior center in Dover, De.