Bicentennial of Joseph Smith surgery celebrated with 5K run


If you had told someone in 1813 that a surgery would be celebrated 200 years later, they probably wouldn’t have believed you. But on Aug. 3, that is precisely what runners will do as they run to celebrate the bicentennial of a surgery that may have saved the life of Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family Association will host the run on Aug. 3 at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City. The organization of the run started from a desire to express gratitude for the surgery and the great work of the surgeon, Dr. Nathan Smith. Many members of the association believe the surgery was a miracle.

“The surgery that saved 7-year-old Joseph’s leg, and possibly his life…might be considered the first miracle of the Restoration,” said Frances Orton, president of The Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family Association.

Three-year-old Tatum Brewer, who is running in the race.
Three-year-old Tatum Brewer, who is running in the race.

A board member of the association, Dan Adams, also believes that events surrounding the surgery were too ideal to be just good fortune.

“We commemorate the leg surgery on 7-year-old Joseph as (a miracle) because it was incredible,” said Adams. “It just so happened that the only surgeon in America who could save Joseph’s leg, Dr. Nathan Smith, was just a few miles away at the time and he had been developing an experimental surgery so advanced that it took another 100 years before it became accepted as standard practice.”

The race includes a 5K run, as well as a children’s run. Elder M Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will personally hand out medals after the children’s run.

Proceeds from the run will fund a scholarship in Joseph Smith’s name for an aspiring medical student at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, which was founded by Dr. Nathan Smith.

More information about the event is available at

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