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Kidney donor’s generous gift earns honor

WESSON — An unselfish act of love a few months ago has earned aBrookhaven woman the Exchange Club’s Book of Golden DeedsAward.

When Eunice Brabham donated one of her kidneys to a stranger,who also happened to live in Brookhaven, she never expectedanything in return — just a blessed feeling.

Brabham was stunned to hear Brookhaven Exchange Club memberJimmie Gillis tell her moving story to the group of about 100 atthe Thames Center for the club’s 55th anniversary banquet Fridaynight.

The emotion she displayed as she accepted the award brought mostof the room to tears and to their feet.

“I can only say that this was not my idea, and it’s so humblingto hear those words, but it was God’s idea,” she said.

Brabham was comforted with hugs from Becky Fisk, the recipientof the kidney.

She and her husband, Dr. John Fisk, nominated Brabham for thedistinguished award. In their letters of nomination, they said thesparkle in Mrs. Fisk’s eyes was “God’s gift tied with a ribbonnamed Eunice.”

While revealing this year’s Golden Deed winner, which is kept asecret until the banquet, Gillis told an attentive, quiet crowdabout the sacrifice Brabham made.

“She helped an unknown person who had almost run out of miraclesand whose family had almost run out of hope,” Gillis said. “Howmany people do you know who would put their life on the line to dosomething like this?”

Prior to the transplant, Brabham was warned about the risks fromnumerous doctors, but each time she simply said, “This is God’swork.”

After more than four years of being on the transplant list,Fisk’s prayers were answered by a woman not afraid to look death inthe eye if it meant giving joy to another person, Gilliscontinued.

He added that the recipients of the Golden Deeds Award “makethis world a better place by practicing the art of reaching out toothers,” which was something Brabham did in an extraordinaryway.

Another individual who gave unselfishly of himself throughoutthe past year was Weldon Smith, who was given the John L. LearyMemorial Award.

Kelly McDonald, a previous recipient who presented the award,commented on how Smith exhibited the meaning of “Exchange” as adedicated member.

“Any time you go out to the park, he’ll be out there,” McDonaldsaid. “He’s there all the time working on something, looking forsome way to help out.”

Smith often rakes leaves, picks up trash, repairs pipes ormachinery and helps run the rides during the annual fair.

“Also, for the past six years, if you looked for him on anyweeknight from April to August, you could find him at one of thebaseball fields. . . as the baseball commissioner for the ExchangeClub sponsored Dixie Youth Baseball program,” McDonald said.

Smith was glad to the receive the award, and said that helpingthe club was something he enjoyed doing and didn’t need anyrecognition for it.

“I love the club. It’s a great organization,” said Smith.

Smith was also recognized with an attendance award along withfellow members Glen Armstrong, Frank Burns, Gordon Sweeney, AlvinBrown and Carl Dyess.

A few member were also acknowledged for their long-timemembership in the club. Jimmy Furlow has 20 years, Ted Evans, 25years; Mitchell Davis, 35 years; Jimmie Gillis, 35 years; chartermember Charles “Ploochie” Ratliff, 55 years.

Brookhaven Exchange Club president Harold Gary, vice presidentKenneth Warren, secretary Michael Cupit and treasurer Bill Haagwere recognized, as well as board members Herbert Moore, Armstrong,Burns, Chuck Bond, Ricky Lagrone, Tom Corker and ex-officioMcDonald.