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The ultimate treehouse

Erin Leyden

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Foundation grant helps build sanctuary for those touched by ovarian cancer.

Gregory Warren Smith, CFP, could see the difference in his wife, Bridget, when they visited their 60 acres of land during her treatment for stage 4 ovarian cancer. The property they purchased in Kentucky was a place of solitude, with an abundance of animal life, beautiful mature trees, rivers, ponds and a bluff. It was a source of healing for both of them.

“We both knew we had found the perfect property, and the perfect tree meant for a one-of-a-kind, ultimate treehouse,” said Smith, a three-year MDRT member from Louisville, Kentucky. “Bridget died before we could make that dream come true.”

After his wife’s death, Smith decided to move forward with building the treehouse. He created the Treehouse of Hope, a sanctuary for those touched by ovarian cancer. He hopes that, in addition to providing a healing space for families, Treehouse of Hope also helps raise national awareness of the disease and its early warning signs.

This year, the MDRT Foundation awarded a $5,000 Quality of Life grant to support the Treehouse of Hope initiative through the efforts of Ovarian Awareness Kentucky (OAK). "The OAK group was extremely important to Bridget, to her discovery, treatment and end stages of ovarian cancer," Smith said.

Ovarian cancer is often a silent cancer: You don’t know you have it until it’s advanced. “Had Bridget and I known to pay attention to the early whispering signs, we might still be whispering our lifelong love to each other,” Smith said.

Smith has volunteered more than 40 hours a month at OAK to build the retreat. The Treehouse of Hope is expecting its first family visit in the spring of 2019.

Smith has also volunteered his time participating in the MDRT Foundation service project held just prior to this year’s MDRT Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida.

“The MDRT Foundation serves a lot of good causes with such a broad reach and helps define the Whole Person concept,” he said. “If you are an MDRT member, you are already successful. The Foundation is a way to give back beyond the industry.”

Erin Leyden is the MDRT Foundation's corporate and foundation relations manager. Contact her at

To find out more, go to:

To Learn More about Treehouse of Hope and its progress, visit


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