CHARLESTON, W.Va. --
As a teenager, Logan County native Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. was forced to sleep in his car, but after catapulting to music stardom on national television, Murphy is returning to West Virginia to try to help other homeless and at-risk teenagers avoid that early fate.Murphy will provide the entertainment for Daymark Inc.'s spring fundraiser on May 18. Daymark runs shelters and group homes for homeless youth in the Kanawha Valley. They offer crisis and emergency services, counseling, GED programs and job training, among other services. Daymark has served about 4,000 youths and families in the past year.Murphy said he's done a number of charity performances recently, but that Daymark is a special one because it addresses an issue that's personal for him."I let everybody know that I was homeless," Murphy said of his experience on NBC's "America's Got Talent," the show that launched his music career.Murphy said he slept in his car for a stretch when he was 19 because he didn't want to burden his friends, but that a youth shelter could have served as an alternative."My pride made me homeless. I didn't want to ask anybody for help," he said. "A place like Daymark would've been great for me because they give you a roof over your head and let you further your education."Murphy visited Daymark facilities last year to speak with the kids there.
Because many of the kids the program serves are in the custody of the state, Daymark receives state and federal funding. However, it relies on private donations for nearly 20 percent of its annual budget.Last year's spring fundraiser, featuring Jerry West, netted the nonprofit more than $100,000, a number it hopes to match this year.Vicki Pleasant, Daymark's executive director, said that she hopes for 400 to 500 attendees.This year's fundraiser is titled "Fly me to the Moon," after the Frank Sinatra song that Murphy sang on "America's Got Talent."The fundraiser will be at the Executive Air Hangar at Yeager Airport in Charleston. It begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails and assorted hors d'oeuvres from several Charleston chefs, followed by dinner, a raffle and Murphy's performance.Tickets are $100 per person and can be reserved by calling Daymark at 304-340-3675. Formal attire is recommended.A shuttle service will be available between the event and surrounding parking lots.Reach David Gutman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5119.