A little more than a month ago, the floor dropped out from under 34-year-old Heather Murnighan's feet when she was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant tumor located in her sinuses.
Murnighan immediately began chemotherapy and radiation treatment to combat the rapidly growing tumor, and as a result had to take an extended leave of absence from her position as a server at Stout Irish Pub.
Stout, in return, is doing everything it can to help Murnighan, including offering a sign-up sheet where people can volunteer to take the single mother to her doctor appointments and rallying the community by holding a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Thursday to help pay Murnighan's medical bills.
The fundraiser will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will feature a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, a bake sale and entertainment provided by Scottie Alexander.
"The support from Stout Irish Pub is the most amazing thing I have ever seen," Murnighan said. "Every week, I give them the appoinment schedule, and my family, Stout employees and even the Stout 'regulars' have all lended hand to be sure I get everywhere and anything I need. Even as little as someone dropping me off the newspaper."
Connie Burke, a recent transplant to Brighton who moved to the area last September, immediately befriended Murnighan who took care of Burke's house and pets while she traveled for work.
Burke said she has never seen any place like Stout, equating them to a family rallying around one of their own.
Seeing the overwhelming support from the community, Burke said she wanted to help as much as she could as well. As a General Motors employee, Burke was able to get involved by offering unique items for the silent auction.
"I can offer one-week vehicle loans in a brand new GM vehicle like a Chevy Camaro and a Cadillac Escalade and other products like that," she said.
Another auction item is a pair of tickets to a Chicago Cubs and Cardinals game in Chicago that includes an overnight hotel stay, for which Burke will also provide the car.
Tickets to the spaghetti dinner are $20. Stout has also set up a donation page where people can donate money via PayPal for Murnighan.
"It makes me proud to be a member of the Brighton community when I see people rallying for one of their own," Burke said. "It's one of the things that makes me think I moved to the right place -- the people here. They're so welcoming and so friendly and community minded. I feel like I've been here a lot longer."