Still Running Strong: OneRunTogether closes 2013 with 100th grant

From left to right, Kelly, a social worker and one of Vernon Murphy's contacts; Vernon Murphy, CEO and Founder of OneRunTogether; Elfriede, the recipient of OneRunTogether's 100th grant; and Dr. James M. Patterson, oncologist at Chester County Hematology and Oncology in West Chester. Photo courtesy of Vernon Murphy

Vernon Murphy, the founder and CEO of “OneRunTogether,” announced that his non-profit 501-c organization has crossed a huge milestone in its mission to help cancer patients in the Chester and Berks County areas.

The Tri County Record has been following this story since the birth of the organization in August of 2011. The first grant to a cancer patient was given out in 2012, and as 2013 comes to a close, the 100th grant has been made to a Chester County patient named Elfriede to pay her heating bills which had been growing.

The year 2014 is already in the planning. To quote great humanitarian Margaret Meade, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; for indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Murphy’s wife, Beth, battled breast cancer for nine years before losing her fight at the age of 46 on Nov. 13, 2009. She was the mother of three: Cory, Casey and Cayla.

Their local church, East Brandywine Baptist, their children’s school, Conestoga Christian, and the local community reached out to help the family with not only emotional support, but also by making meals, helping with family needs and transportation when needed.

Murphy said, “I thought about all the people who might be struggling with nowhere to turn for help. I wanted to start an organization that would help those people to pay utility bills, rent, mortgage, childcare, auto repairs, food and just the everyday expenses that people have.”

“Our slogan is ‘Run together, so no one fights cancer alone,’” he added. Another that may be appropriate is from Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

“It is my passion; I am very happy to know that I can give back. I know that God has taught me how to help others and I have a peace about my young wife,” Murphy reflected. “I know she knows what we are doing and it makes her happy.”

In the process, he has formed good partnerships with social workers, medical staffs and physicians. His big surprise with the 100th grant was that Elfriede was a patient of Dr. James M. Patterson of Chester County Hematology/Oncology (an affiliate of Penn Medicine Chester County Hospital), the very doctor that had treated Murphy’s wife. He made this serendipitous discovery when he was reading her application.

He also has a strong affiliation with the McGlinn Family Regional Cancer Center at the Reading Hospital.

People are referred through medical providers or word of mouth. The money comes in via small amounts: $5, $10, $25, $100. They have few large donors, as well – everybody helps to make a difference. Patients fill out applications which are reviewed and authenticated by the organization and a determination is made.

The 100th patient is a senior citizen who lives with a friend and has two daughters who help her, but she was struggling to pay a large heating bill. A social worker who is one of Vernon’s contacts notified him and the process began.

To know that his mission has been a success is documented in the faces of the 100 people he has served and in the partnerships he has formed.

Golf tournaments, 5k mud runs and dinners, among other events, have made this group well known in the community. The Chester County Food Bank is a huge supporter, as well as those who supply space to run his events including Donna Horvath from the Honey Brook Golf Course and Weavers Orchard, among others.

People can get involved for the new year by visiting the website at www.oneruntogether.org or calling 610-733-2181.

Be sure to meet the folks by coming out to their Spaghetti Dinner Friday, Jan. 17 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Brandywine Baptist Church for a suggested donation of $5.

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