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#1commUNITY to make a difference for cancer research, fundraising, fellowship

New non-profit to partner with other organizations to fundraise in memory of Illinois Cub 2017.

Dennis Murray, Illinois Cub 2017

CHICAGO — #1commUNITY is a non-profit created with the belief that it is only through coming together as one family can we truly overcome any obstacle in our way. To help foster the concept of Ohana they will be producing raising money for cancer research and awareness, focusing our efforts on St. Jude Children’s Hospital. While located in the Chicagoland area, they have members all over the country who will be fundraising and bringing their message to people everywhere.

On December 3, 2018 the Chicago Leather and Bear community was ripped apart by the news of the death of one of their beloved members. Many of them didn’t know DJ Dennis Murray had been battling cancer for almost two years. Dennis was diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophageal Cancer.  For nearly two years, he went through chemo, radiation, and immunotherapy as well as researching and implementing natural immune system boosters.  He was always full of life, ready with a bag of gummi bears or other snacks, and always looked out for anyone he came into contact with.

When he was first diagnosed, he said he didn’t want to become a statistic, he wanted to screw up the statistics. So, he went out and competed in the Mr. Illinois Bear Contest, winning the title of Mr. Illinois Cub. He volunteered all over the city, helping put together safer sex packets for Howard Brown Health Center, feeding the homeless, organizing clothes for children in need, as well as helping at the Leather Archives & Museum. He participated in the Light the Night Walk for the LLS and he counseled other cancer patients. He went to the gym twice a week and was leg pressing close to a thousand pounds. The average life expectancy of a Stage 4 Esophageal Cancer patient is 8-12 months.  At the time that, statistically, he should have been lying in a hospital bed, he was participating in the Iowa Leather Weekend, Mr. Central IL Bear and North American Bear, honing his skills in bootblacking, marched in two pride parades, competed for Mr. World Bear, went to two P!NK concerts, raised some money for St. Jude in a Smoke-off. In his spare time, he was still working, driving his truck about 60 hours a week!

Here I was sitting in front of a man who was literally dying, and all he cared about was making sure other contestants were taken care of and that we raised a … ton of money for charity. – Johnny Benjamin, Mr. World Bear 2017

I remember the day Dennis found out I had cancer like it was just yesterday. He walked into my office, closed the door, gave me a big hug and said, ‘You’re not alone in this fight.’ – Terrance Simental, Co-worker

DJ’s greatness wasn’t in some brilliance or one outstanding talent, although he had many. His greatness was his being present in our lives. To each of us he was something different and maybe different things at different times based on our needs. But to each of us, he was there, present, real, and alive. – TJ Howard, Mr. Leather6410 2017

One of the things that Dennis believed in was the concept of #1commUNITY – that we needed to stop segregating ourselves by focusing on our differences. Instead, we should be using those differences to bring us together and learn more about ourselves. We need to look out for each other and be there in any way that we can.

Through #1commUNITY, Amethyst Phoenix Events and Macho Events will be partnering with other organizations and events, as well as creating its own events, to continue DJ’s mission to foster a true sense of community and family. From dance parties to fashion shows, Smoke-offs to volunteering, they will be highlighting and celebrating groups and individuals who strive to make the world a more loving, welcoming place for everyone.

To find out more, please visit them at http://1communityChicago.com

Press release from #1commUNITY

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