HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – We're passing on $300 to a cancer patient who's been called an "inspiration" because of her strength and courage through crisis. The uplifting power of friendship is on full display in this week's "Act of Kindness."
"I used to do these all the time, yes every stitch in it," said Ruth Atkinson.
From cross-stitch to crystal lamps, Ruth Atkinson spent years crafting decorative gifts for her friends.
"I loved handwork and painting and crafts all of my life," she said.
Lately, a host of health problems has forced her to set aside her passion.
"I got liver cancer and lung cancer on top of bone cancer so it's just rough," Ruth said.
Ruth says the pain's excruciating. She has a hard time getting around. Most days, she's at home with her pets since her husband's death two years ago.
"It's hard sometimes. I cry a lot," Ruth said.
Ruth does talk to friends nearly every day. But she had no idea; her friends were talking to us. Joyce and Bernard Hawk wanted me to know about their friend of more than four decades.
Sabrina Squire: "What made you contact Acts of Kindness?"
Joyce Hawk: "I just feel like she's in need of help and she's been such an inspiration to us."
Sabrina Squire: "She thinks you're coming over to just say hi?
Joyce Hawk: "I didn't tell her we were coming. (Laughs)"
We love surprises, but first a little accounting.
Sabrina Squire: "This 100, 200, 300 dollars because you're a person who looks out for their friends."
Then we follow the Hawks to Ruth's house. We reach her Henrico County rancher in less than ten minutes, and seconds after Ruth opens her door, it's clear she wasn't expecting company.
Sabrina Squire: "Hi Mrs. Atkinson."
Ruth Atkinson: "Hi, how are you doing?"
Sabrina Squire: "Pretty good."
Ruth Atkinson: "You've got a whole bunch of people."
Joyce Hawk: "I got a whole crew of..."
Ruth Atkinson: "What, is he taking pictures? I haven't even combed my hair."
Sabrina Squire: "You look beautiful."
Joyce Hawk: "This is Sabrina Squire and Matt, they're from Channel 12 Acts of Kindness."
Sabrina Squire: "You're being honored by your dear friend."
Ruth Atkinson: "I ain't combed my hair or nothing."
Sabrina Squire: "Your hair looks wonderful."
Joyce Hawk: "Your hair looks wonderful."
Ruth lets us inside and her longtime friends explain why she's an inspiration.
Joyce Hawk: "You've been through so much and you've tried so hard to keep everything going, and you've kept your faith and your courage and your strength. It's hard to watch you go thru the struggle but it's wonderful to watch your spirit at the same time."
Ruth Atkinson: "I've seen this on channel 12."
Joyce Hawk: "And so we brought you a little gift."
Ruth Atkinson: "Oh my lord."
Joyce Hawk: "$100, $200, $300 to help you out with something."
Ruth Atkinson: "Thank you so much. I can finish paying my electric bill."
Ruth tells me she's grateful the friendship that began 44 years ago when her husband and Bernard met on the job.
"Super worker, great friend," Ruth said.
Sabrina Squire: "So what do you think of what your friends have done?"
Ruth Atkinson: "Oh, this is such a blessing. I just can't believe it. I never thought it would be me."
Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.