Vickroy: Superhero-like plunge honors super mom
Donna Vickroy firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-5982 May 2, 2012 7:44PM
Maureen Murphy is sworn in as state representative, while her sons look on.
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Updated: June 4, 2012 10:23AM
While the Avengers are saving the world on the big screen this weekend, Michael Murphy will be channeling his inner Spider-Man to help rid the planet of lung disease.
The 25-year-old Evergreen Park college student will participate in this weekend’s Skyline Plunge, an event sponsored by the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. The goal is to raise more than $100,000 for lung disease research and programs.
“I’ve always been somewhat of a daredevil,” said Murphy, who is poised to graduate this month with a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He likes to hike, participate in triathlons and jump out of planes.
This will be his first attempt at rappelling. He’ll step off the 278-foot high Wit Hotel just after 10 a.m. Sunday.
As sure as crowds will gather to watch along State and Lake streets in Chicago’s Loop, Murphy is certain his mom will be watching from above.
“My mom would have supported me doing this because she always supported us,” he said.
Maureen Murphy gave her four sons lots of space and lots of trust, he said.
“She expected us to make good decisions. She raised us to have a good head on our shoulders,” said Murphy, 25.
Maureen Murphy served as state representative for the 36th District. She was the first woman to be chairman of the Cook County Republican Party. And she was the suburbanite on the Cook County Board of Review.
In 2006, she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She died in 2008.
“My mom was the most amazing person,” Murphy said. “It takes all of us to fill in for her. It’s amazing because she had such a busy public life but also did everything for us. It’s hard to believe one person could be so influential, have such a strong presence.”
Murphy is hoping to raise $2,000, twice the minimum required to participate in the plunge. He posted information about the event on his Facebook page.
At press time, he was 83 percent of the way there.
“I always set the bar high,” he said.
Murphy grew up in Evergreen Park, attending Southwest Elementary School and graduating from Evergreen Park High School.
As class president of U of I’s School of Architecture, he will give a commencement speech during next week’s graduation.
The following day, he will leave for a whirlwind tour of Europe, visiting Paris, London and Scotland before meeting up with his dad and two of his brothers in Ireland.
When he returns to Chicago, he’ll begin work as a structural engineer with Thornton Tomasatti, an international engineering company.
Though his degree is in architecture, he has enough credits in engineering to qualify for either field.
Last summer, he interned at Thornton Tomasetti.
“Every day I walked passed the Wit and thought, ‘What a cool building,’ ” he said.
During his 27-story descent this weekend, he’ll get a whole new perspective on that.
Though he has ridden down tall buildings on a swing shift with construction workers, Murphy said, “I’ve never bounced my way down a building before.”
This summer, his buddy is getting married at the Wit.
“There seems to be a lot of connections with this hotel,” he said.
Murphy said the fundraising process has been an unexpectedly emotional one.
“I saw this as an opportunity to do something kind of crazy. I’ve supported my friends who’ve Hustled up the Hancock and things like that, but when I saw rappelling, I knew I had to try it,” he said. “It just sounded like a cool thing to do.”
What he didn’t expect was the outpouring of support from family and friends that has come his way.
“It’s been really nice to see how many people remember my mom and how many support this cause,” he said.
Losing his mom, he said, has made him a more responsible person. But his mom prepared him well for the challenge, he adds.
“Rappelling a hotel in downtown Chicago wouldn’t be my mom’s cup of tea,” Murphy said.
“But she was always one to give back to the community, and I know she’d support this.”