CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Cotswold family that suffered two devastating losses within weeks, is getting through the holidays with a little help from their friends and neighbors.
Mike Farnsworth, an orthopedic sales rep, died suddenly on October 6th – his 10th wedding anniversary – leaving behind his wife, Melissa, and two young children.
“Mike was like an everyman's man,” said his brother Matt. “He was charming, handsome, and just a really good guy.”
Matt Farnsworth said Mike struggled with an alcohol addiction for years, often quitting just to start again. They believe alcohol is what killed him, though they are waiting for toxicology results to be sure.
“He just had a really bad disease,” said Matt. “He lost the battle. It wasn't for lack of trying.”
Then, a few weeks later in the early morning hours of the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the family’s house burned down. They traced the fire to faulty electrical wiring on a porch light.
Matt was staying with Melissa and the kids that night. He woke up as the house burned because he felt hot, and thought he heard a clicking sound.
“We now know the clicking we were hearing was the attic on fire above me,” he said.
The family was able to escape, but they lost everything except a few photos and Mike’s confirmation Bible.
But even without a roof over their heads, the Farnsworths found friends and neighbors willing to shelter them – with support.
Sunday night, they raised thousands of dollars for the family with a fundraiser at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. Owner Norm Randall had been friends with Mike and Melissa Farnsworth for almost ten years. He, like others, was eager to help.
“It’s amazing,” said Randall. “I just believe it's the hand of God bringing people together when one family truly needs some support.”
Matt Farnsworth choked up when he saw the outpouring of support.
“I walked in here tonight and the amount of love that's come out of this .. is just..” he paused. “It's a little overwhelming.”
He wants to pay the good deeds forward. He knows during the holidays he’ll miss his brother, but he also knows others are battling the same illness Mike did.
He offers this advice: “If you're struggling and you think you have a problem, take it seriously,” he said, “because life is too short.”
Tax deductible donations to help the family can also be made to Hope Community Church