If you want happiness for an hour—take a nap. If you want happiness for a day—go fishing. If you want happiness for a month—get married. If you want happiness for a year—inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime—help others.
Michael Murphy, our April Volunteer of the Month honoree epitomizes this adage. For the last four years, this 28-year old has dedicated his time, his energy and his compassion towards helping others by volunteering for the Chapter in many capacities.
His father, Jim Murphy lost his life to ALS in 2018, after a nine-year battle with the disease. Michael began to volunteer with the Chapter three years earlier, in 2015, after he returned to Philadelphia following four years in college and another in graduate school. Initially he helped with the Chapter’s Sips & Sweets event, The Greater Philadelphia and Rehoboth Beach Walk to Defeat ALS and the Ride to Defeat ALS. He also continues to raise money for ALS care services and research by running in several marathons.
Michael’s involvement with the Chapter’s Young Professionals Group has made a significant impact on his life. “This group enables me to meet many people closer to my age who share my life experiences and are also involved in ALS fundraising. That’s been the biggest benefit to me personally – getting to know them. This group has been so valuable to me,” he reflects.
Michael always appreciated the extent to which the Chapter helped his family throughout those nine years. They were not easy ones. In the Fall of his senior year in High School, Michael’s dad was diagnosed with ALS. When he graduated, his father could still walk. Over the next year, his father lost the ability to speak and walk on his own, yet his slow progression enabled him to still be able to continue to work in business development for Johnson & Johnson. The Chapter was there for the Murphy family, providing medical equipment and answers to their most pressing questions.
By the end of Michael’s freshman year at Hamilton College in upstate New York, his dad was on a ventilator and in a motorized wheelchair. He lived on a ventilator for seven years. His younger brother, his mother and Michael all credit his father’s positive outlook with making those years fulfilling. The family truly “lived” with the disease. They went to a Red Sox game (in honor of his parents’ New England Roots) Phillies and Flyers games and Cirque du Soleil performances to name just a few special family activities.
Michael always looked up to his dad, Jim. His dad loved to run, camp, backpack, and hike. All things that Michael enjoyed throughout his life as well. His dad coached Michael’s ice hockey team. They shared a very powerful father-son relationship. Those snapshots formed a unique basis for Michael’s dedication to the ALS cause.
Time and experience resound in his voice. Today, Michael is a Senior Associate at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) where he works primarily with medical device companies and healthcare networks. His career has steadily advanced, yet he remains very humble. “My work necessitated me to spend 75 days in a Marriott last year!” he smiles. His dad would be very proud of his son’s accomplishments, but Michael’s greatest gift is that of giving back.
“Volunteering with the Chapter is always a very emotionally rewarding experience. I see how much immediate impact I have as well as understand the long-term impact in the lives of people with this disease. At first, I just didn’t realize how easy it would be to find volunteer opportunities here. It’s about taking the first step, reaching out and getting involved. Each time I volunteer I know how much I’ve helped other people.”
Michael, thank you for helping. Thank you for making an impact. Here’s to a “lifetime of happiness.”