WINCHESTER -- Leslie Nicole Smith will serve as the honorary grand marshal for the 85th Celebration of the Blooms, according to a press release from the festival office in Winchester.
Smith, a retired U.S. Army captain, is a Winchester native. She moved away at age 4, but prides herself in her Winchester beginnings, the release states.
Smith attended Marymount University in Arlington, majored in communications and was also awarded a four-year Army ROTC scholarship. She was commissioned a second lieutenant from Georgetown University in May 1991, where she received her bachelor's degree. Smith attended the Army's Public Affairs school at Fort Meade and has continued as a public affairs officer, holding various positions throughout her career.
After being deployed to Bosnia with the 29th Infantry Division in September 2001, she requested to remain for a second tour, but she developed a blood clot in her left leg. She returned to the United States, where she was admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and diagnosed with a blood infection. Her condition was so serious that the Army immediately retired her, and she had to have her left leg amputated at the knee.
Smith suffered extensive tissue loss on her legs that required over 20 surgeries. She now is a qualified peer counselor with the Amputee Coalition of America, and she motivates soldiers in Wounded Warriors to overcome their physical challenges through athletics, the release states.