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Costco Employee With Terminal Cancer Surprised By Customers With Vacation

Shoppers in a California Costco raised money to send a beloved employee, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and his wife on a vacation.

Posted on March 11, 2015, at 3:27 a.m. ET

Familiar face at #Danville Costco who's battling cancer & MS gets surprise gift from those he greets. Story to come

Customers at Danville's Costco recently learned Arlie Smith is facing a life-threatening health issue, so on Tuesday they decided to surprise him with an all-expenses paid vacation for him and his wife.

Smith, 45, is known as the "Costco Guy" by customers, because he always greets them with an enthusiastic smile. When shoppers with kids leave the store, he draws them a cute picture on the back of their receipt.

"He's always at the door, he's always giving receipts, he's always smiling, always happy. And people refer to him as "the Costco Guy,"" said customer Steve Maurer to the Fox-affiliated KTVU-TV.

The kindness of strangers can bring tears to your eyes. Coming up on @abc7newsBayArea at 6. A star #Whereyoulive

Arlie has worked at Costco for 21 years and always has a cheery attitude, but he has had to overcome many challenges.

He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years ago. Then, last September, he was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer.

Doctors aren't sure how long he will live, but say maybe two years, KTVU-TV reported.

Despite being diagnosed with cancer, he has continued to have a positive outlook on life and says he plans to work at Costco for as long as he can.

"Since the time he was told that, he's been enthusiastic, and happy, and I'm not kidding," said his wife Shari Smith to KTVU-TV.

San Ramon community raises money for cancer-stricken Costco worker http://t.co/xAdwNPA60n #sanfrancisco

A group from the community — calling themselves Arlie's Angels — surprised him on Tuesday with gift basket that included a $2,500 beach getaway.

"We know what we need to do," said Bridgette Loughnane, Arlie's Angels organizer, to ABC-affiliated KGO-TV. "We just need to raise some money, $5, $10, $100. Whatever you can do."

When Arlie was presented with the gift by his Angels, he was overjoyed with happiness.

"They're priceless, they're irreplaceable," he said to KTVU-TV about his customers. "Everything that's done for me and the love that's shown for me, every day, it's astounding. I mean, people don't have this great of a life, really," he said.

Tears of joy as #costco greeter gets a big surprise from customers. Don't miss this story at 5 & 6 @abc7newsBayArea

Arlie and Shari met at the Costco store on Jan. 4 2002. Shari was returning an item, and said to the Contra Costa Times that she moved into a different line so she would end up at Arlie's register. The couple married the following year.

Cancer patient surprised when shoppers return his cheery greeting with a gift of love. At 5:11pm @abc7newsBayArea

Arlie's goal now is to raise money for the Oakland Children's Hospital in May.

"My goal is to be number one and not for me," Arlie said to KGO-TV. "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."

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