By Justin Swanson | LB Indy
On the cusp of heartbreak and the threshold of tragedy, two Laguna Beach families are leaning on friends and accepting the kindness of fellow residents as multiple fundraising efforts are underway to support Marc Pitz and William McMurray.
This Sunday, March 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Furioso Salon is hosting a cut-a-thon and cookout with a silent auction wherein all proceeds are donated to the Friends of Marc Pitz Fund. The next day, March 11 from 5 to 9 p.m., The Saloon and Watermarc restaurant will put on an event with a $100 entry fee replete with opportunity drawings and silent auction items.
Meanwhile, further support is accepted anytime by patronizing the Pitz’s Dizz’s As Is and the McMurray’s Penguin Café restaurants.
The McMurray family was dealt a new blow when doctors discovered that their son William, 11, that an inoperable brain tumor returned to its original size despite the therapy he received last year. The McMurrays are currently seeking alternative therapies, says family friend Kimberly Leeds.
“His mom and dad are with him as much as possible, and they are trying to make it a happy situation and enjoy their time together,” Leeds says, adding that the family just returned from Disneyworld. “But it’s hard to watch [my] friends go through this.”
Leeds says these days are proving to be emotionally difficult for William’s parents, Sabrina and Michael, despite their resilience. Sabrina home-schools William, who also spends his time building Legos and enjoying nature.
A number of fundraisers were organized last summer for William, when his illness was discovered. The family has declined offers from friends to put together any more formal fundraisers, according to Kelly Fontenot, who counts Sabrina McMurray as her best friend.
“They say the community has been so generous,” Fontenot explains, “that the outpouring of love has been unbelievable.”
Even so, the McMurrays do need help, says Fontenot, so that William’s parents may continue to spend as much time with him as possible. “Sabrina has helped to keep us strong,” she says referring to the Laguna community. “Now she’s the one that needs our help.”
Pitz, who was released from the hospital last month having been treated for pancreatic cancer, is now seeing the inpouring of a community’s care for one of its own. Almost immediately, his friends began a fund in his name.
The event at The Saloon and Watermarc promises to be a boon.
Michael Byrne, owner of the Saloon and organizer of the event, has managed to gather a trove of auction items and prizes spanning most of Laguna’s establishments and beyond. There are weekend stays at the Montage Beverly Hills and Hotel Laguna. There are a guitar autographed by Santana, Lakers tickets in a private suite, and an original Phil Interlandi painting of Dizz’s As Is. A number of restaurants have offered up dinners as prizes.
“A lot of businesses come and go over the years,” Byrne explains, “so there’s a lot of support for a restaurant that has been around a long time like Dizz’s. [The Pitz family] has a long history in Laguna.”
Young’s Market has already donated $10,000 to Pitz’s fund.
As for the Monday night event, the $100 entry fee — by cash or check only — buys food and two drinks per person, while all the proceeds go to the Pitz fund. Though guests may attend without paying the fee, to instead participate in the opportunity drawing and auctions, Byrne marvels at the thought of 200 or more people showing up and all donating.
“It could be a really nice night under horrible circumstances,” he says.
There are also two future fundraising events for Pitz. Mayor Kelly Boyd and former city manager Ken Frank will serve as guest hosts at Dizz’s As Is on March 14, and will meet and greet all patrons, Boyd announced this week. On Monday, March 15, there will be a gathering at Dizz’s chiefly of Pitz’s friends through coaching soccer and customers who know the family. Later on, on April 13 there will be a community party at the Woman’s Club with $50 entry, dinner, drinks, and dancing. It is hoped that Pitz will be well enough to attend the latter.
If you would like to help the McMurrays, consider eating at and bringing donations to the Penguin at 981 South Coast Highway.
Donations can also be made for the Pitzes at any US Bank to the Friends of Marc Donation Fund. Or money can be sent via mail: Friends of Marc Donation Fund, c/o US Bank, 310 Glenneyre Street, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.