Michael William Mcmahon and his wife, Sharon, were among the lucky ones in the wake of the April 4 7.2-magnitude earthquake — lucky in that the only real damage they suffered was a few broken china-set dishes.
Others throughout the Imperial Valley weren’t so lucky as they were displaced, at least for a time, from their homes or apartments.
Mike McMahon saw the hurt many were going through and chose to act.
“We were sitting at home one night, and he was really upset because he felt the government was not stepping up to help the victims,” Sharon says of her husband. “He said it makes him angry and something needs to be done.”
So Sharon reminded her husband of his 25-years experience of organizing barbecue fundraiser events largely through his involvement with Kiwanis, and her words struck a chord with him.
“He spoke to the board of Kiwanis, and that’s how it all started,” she relates.
What was born out of that evening conversation between husband and wife was an event titled “IV Earthquake Victims Relief BBQ,” which was held May 16. Held at two locations, Imperial Valley College and Wilson Junior High School in El Centro, the barbecue became a huge Valleywide effort involving a number of civic clubs, churches, volunteers and donations.
In the end, $100,000 was raised to help local earthquake victims, and while anyone who knows Mike McMahon knows he would never take credit for such a communitywide event, truth be told — and all interviewed said this — without his know how, his community spirit and his drive to make a difference, the event would not have been such a success.
For his efforts involved with spearheading the earthquake victim barbecue and for his years of community work, the man many simply know as Mike was chosen as this edition’s Man of Distinction.
A HISTORY OF CARING
That Mike would act on his wish to help people in the wake of the earthquake comes as no surprise to those who know him best. It is what he does — it is what he has always done.
“He cares for this community,” Sharon McMahon says. “I don’t know why he does — he just does.”
Sharon could not hold back tears as she speaks of her husband. The tears came, she confesses, because it moves her so much how deeply her husband loves the Imperial Valley and the people who call the Valley home.
The list of McMahon’s involvement in the Valley is long — longer than can be conveyed in this article, but that list does include serving on the Imperial County Disaster Recovery Team, which ensures those affected by the April 4 earthquake have access to the services they need.
His civic service also includes 28 years as a member of Kiwanis, an organization whose focus is helping children locally, nationally and internationally. Not only was he president twice of the Kiwanis Club of El Centro, but he also served as the Lieutenant Governor of his Kiwanis regional district.
As part of his years with Kiwanis, McMahon served as chairman of an annual barbecue event honoring the pilots and crews of the Blue Angels. As part of that event, not only did Kiwanis show their appreciation for the Blue Angels, but also used the event to raise funds for Kiwanis’ work with children.
Along with Kiwanis, he also has served in the past as an Imperial County Planning Commissioner, and he served for many years as a local scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts (McMahon himself reached the highest level in scouting as an Eagle Scout).
Mike’s son, Michael Joseph McMahon, who resides in El Cajon with his wife Shannon and their two children, says his father is a true role model.
“He is an example to follow,” Michael Joseph describes of his father. “When I grow up, I want to be like him. He puts the community first, and I’m encouraged by the things he does. I want to become involved the way he is involved.”