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Monday, May 17, 2010
Mike Smith, Falcons working miracle

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Just got off the phone with Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith and, surprisingly, the topic of football never came up.

There was a good reason for that. Smith’s got something more important on his plate tonight. He’s hosting his second annual Huddle Up For Miracles dinner at an Atlanta restaurant in a little less than an hour.

Last year’s event raised nearly $200,000 for Children’s Miracle Network, which benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This year’s proceeds will benefit Children’s Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit.

Smith will recognize Miracle Child Marcus Nickell as about 40 Atlanta players and coaches serve as waiters.

“Marcus was involved in a very severe skateboard accident in 2008,’’ Smith said. “Marcus has worked very hard at rehabilitation and made good progress. He still faces a tough battle, but we want to recognize what he’s accomplished and how the rehabilitation unit has helped him.’’

Smith was involved in the Children’s Miracle Network when he was an assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars. When he came to Atlanta, he tied that in with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta because the Falcons and owner Arthur Blank already were active with the organization.

“This is something that’s very near and dear to my heart and the hearts of Mr. Blank and his family,’’ Smith said.

At last year’s dinner, linebacker Stephen Nicholas spoke about his son, Stephen Jr., who had a successful heart transplant and the proceeds from that event went to the cardiac department of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.