As the January honoree of nonprofit Helping One Guy and a lung cancer survivor, Murch symbolized the perseverance the Kennesaw-based organization salutes with recognition, donations and food.
“I had to hang on tough,” the 53-year-old said about recent treatment in the wake of a second cancer scare. “I was on a ventilator. A mechanical machine kept me going.”
Murch needed life support when a biopsy nearly turned lethal.
“My lung collapsed. Things started getting interesting,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe.”
The road to recovery was paved with two surgeries, four months of hospitalization and a 35-pound weight loss.
“That was one tough road. I don’t wish my worst enemy to go down that road,” Murch said. “I had three Code Blues. They carted me off.”
He said faith kept him going in 2008, when he was first diagnosed, and now.
“The Lord healed me of lung cancer,” he said. “Keep those eyes on the Lord.”
Murch’s faith dovetails with the nonprofit’s mission, which owes much to the Bible story of the Good Samaritan.
Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said the nonprofit, formed in 2012 by Bob Kelly of Kennesaw and Scott Evans of Acworth, does a good deed for one “guy” a month.
“This group gets together and makes donations, offers support and prayers for a ‘guy’ that needs some help and they have a dinner in his honor,” Allegood said.
Since its inception six months ago, many encouraging stories have emanated from the nonprofit group, which shares a logo with its host restaurant.
“HOG is a great example of how a community loves and encourages those that need some encouragement,” Allegood said.
The inspirational help is secondary to its financial impact, Evans said.
“We honor people who are going through difficult times as a way of persevering through stuff,” he said. “They set an example to other people on how to persevere. There’s a financial award that’s secondary.”
Donations have ranged from “a few hundred” dollars to $1,000, Kelly said.
About 60 to 110 donors attend the dinner.
“When people come to dinner, they throw $10 or $20 in the bucket,” Kelly said. “We average about $750 per recipient.”
Recipients include Jim Shortley, who uses a wheelchair, who, like Evans and Kelly, worships at NorthStar Church of Kennesaw, and Greg Nall, who lost his left leg while preventing his disabled vehicle from harming others.
Nall’s new prosthetic leg, which he wore for the first time at the dinner Jan. 8, was made possible through the nonprofit’s donations.
On Aug. 7, Evans, another cancer survivor, achieved the dual honor of being the first “guy” honored in the U.S. and the first recipient of the fledgling nonprofit.
“I started it in June as a branch of Helping One Woman,” Kelly said about the Marietta chapter of a Fresno, Calif.-based nonprofit founded in 2008. “I had seen through my church they were having meetings. I talked to one of the ministers and asked if we could do something for men.”
Marietta chapter president Sherrie Rodriguez helped found the men’s counterpart, which is experiencing the same ripple effect she has noted since her group began meeting in August 2010.
“When we’re helping one woman, we’re helping a family, and that family impacts a community,” she said. “The women that come to the dinners network and it gives the (attendees) the opportunity to make a difference.”
Through networking in the nonprofit and ministry spheres, Evans, who said he likes to make a difference in others’ lives by performing random acts of kindness, has come full circle.
“My wife Patti was a recipient of Helping One Woman,” he said. “She’s a giver. She likes to go out and do things for other people.”
Evans said she also enjoyed his recognition by a group represented by swine.
“My wife feels I deserve it because she says I’m a pig,” he said.