California community raises money for cancer-stricken Costco worker

SAN RAMON, Calif. -- Shoppers at a San Ramon Costco love the man who greets them; it's his cheerful personality and big smile. They recently learned their friendly greeter is facing some serious health issues.

Arlie Smith has worked at Costco for nearly 22 years, but the outlook is cloudy on how many more years lie ahead because of the cancer spreading through his body. So some of his fans surprised him Tuesday in a special way.

Smith is always empathetic if a customer walks in complaining about a cold. The tables were turned on him Tuesday. Some shoppers at the San Ramon Costco know Smith is the one who needs a smile and some cheer.

Two years ago, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Six months ago, doctors discovered cancer in one of his kidneys. The cancer has spread to his bones.

A group calling themselves Arlie's Angels, sporting lapel badges, surprised him after organizing online.

"OK, guys, we know what we need to do," said Bridgette Loughane, Arlie's Angels organizer. "We just need to raise some money, $5, $10, $100. Whatever you can do."

Inside a gift basket was money for a beach getaway for Arlie and his wife Shari. Contributions topped $2,500.

"All these people who he has reached out to, and now they're there for him," Shari Smith of Arlie's Angels said. "I can't believe how many sweet, wonderful people there are."

"Look at these people," Smith said. "I'm richer than Bill Gates and the guy from Facebook. Those guys on Shark Tank, put them all together. My life is... I have a priceless, wonderful life. You can't put a price tag on these people and all of this."

His real passion is to be the top fund-raiser for an Oakland Children's Hospital benefit in May.

"My goal is to be number one and not for me," Smith said. "It's just so I know that I made a difference in this world. That I've put a mark in a positive way to make this world a better place."

He also leaves a mark on receipts that kids love.

"We come through the line. He signs the receipt, and he puts a smiley face," San Ramon resident Dyan Young said. "As long as Arlie is here, then my kids want to come to Costco."

No one knows how long he'll be here, but he has no plans to quit. These people are his support network.
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