Troy Matheny was slinging bratwurst last weekend at the Carolina Country Music Festival.
It’s all part of his job as community manager for the American Cancer Society and what he calls building the organization in this area. In this case, he and volunteers staffed the Johnsonville Big Taste Grill – and for each brat or hamburger sold, the American Cancer Society received a dollar.
“We won’t have numbers until late this week because of scanning the wristbands and the festival has to get reports, however Johnsonville said it was the best festival on their tour,” he said.
Originally from Forsyth, Ill., Matheny moved to the Grand Strand in 1994 with his parents when they retired, following his aunt and a younger cousin.
“My mom, dad, grandmother and I left our family home, and it had been in the family for 60 years,” he said, adding that the primary reason for the move was that his mom wanted to be where her sister was.
He planned on becoming a youth pastor and attended Mount Vernon Bible College in Ohio – but his direction changed and he said he ended up in Christian television on the local level. This started on a volunteer basis within his church, but he wound up getting hired by a local station after he graduated.
This was a de facto immersion program in television, starting as an audio director and covering promotions and a stint as producer. He said he was running a studio camera at age 13.
On the Grand Strand, Matheny worked for the Carolina Regional Cancer Center for 11 years in a staff support position and later in became involved with outreach. He volunteered with the American Cancer Society in 2008 and was offered his current job in 2014.
“My primary function is facilitating Relay For Life events in our community, and I handle four of them – Myrtle Beach/South Strand, North Myrtle Beach/Little River, Conway/Aynor and Coastal Carolina University. A lot of people think, ‘Well, that happens once a year,’ but it doesn’t mean that there is not something going on all year long.”
He cited fundraisers held by volunteers leading up to the Relays.
“This is basically raising money up to the events and hoping to be at goal at the events – getting the funds raised and then have the big party and of course recognizing the survivors.”
At the height of Relay season, Matheny says he is nonstop. He had a Relay For Life every weekend in April this year.
“What happens is that I have to get all of the tents there – I have to get all of the T-shirts there – organize the volunteers —everything to make the setup happen,” he said.
Throughout the year there are countless meetings – with team members, committees and sponsors – and Matheny is constantly networking and working on getting new sponsorships as well as reaching out to local media outlets to spread the word on radio and television.
Matheny said that a huge part of his role is fundraising, which is by nature is an ongoing process – but he could well be called on for other tasks on any given day.
“If my administrator [Tracy Gooley] is not here, then I could possibly have a woman walk in that needs a wig and I might help her. I could be talking to somebody who has been diagnosed with cancer that comes into the office – and trying to encourage them. You never know who is going to walk through the door or why. It could be a cancer survivor, a volunteer or perhaps a caregiver. We just never know.”
You might have encountered Matheny along the way.
“I am out in the community trying to build a team, trying to get leadership and sponsorship – networking from the south end to the north end – all the way into Aynor,” he said.
We asked him if the beach factored into his decompression time.
“The fascination with the ocean was big, being that I lived in the cornfields and soybean fields of the Midwest, but after you experience it for a while – more like as a young adult – it’s appealing, but not so much anymore. To walk the beach is nice, but not getting in.”
He prefers spending time with a handful of friends and cites Carolina Roadhouse as a go-to for lunch or meetings.
“How can you go wrong when there is salad and croissants,” he said.
And he doesn’t see himself moving away any time soon.
“I am the only child,” he said. “My parents are senior citizens, so it’s about them right now. I can’t picture that I would move readily, even once that my parents are gone – other than something family-related to be where they are. Probably the biggest takeaway is the fact that my job is my passion.”
Know of a local with an interesting job or career that should be given the Working 4 a Living treatment? Contact Roger Yale at email@example.com.