This was posted Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
It’s been a tough few months for Mark Harmon, former CBS46 sports anchor. In December, a week before Christmas, he lost his sports director job at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Three days ago, his house has burned down.
His wife Margaret last summer was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension and is on oxygen.
A golfing buddy friend Simeon Smith has posted a GoFundMe page for Harmon, raising $7,730 from 43 donors in 20 hours so far as I’m writing this. (UPDATE: After a day and a half and 16 hours after I posted this story, donations had hit the original $20,000 goal, which has since been upped to $30,000. More than 180 people had contributed and the page had been shared 880 times on Facebook.)
Smith said on the GoFundMe site that Harmon and his wife lost almost everything, including their 17-year-old pomeranian in the accidental fire at his Norcross home:
Two precious statues, including one of Jesus, survived the intense heat. All else, including their beloved dog, Buddy, was lost. They are heartbroken. They have their car, the clothes they were wearing that day, their commitment to each other and their faith. That’s it.
He said Margaret, who is just 57, barely escaped death. (Mark was not home when the fire began.) “A neighbor heard her screams and dragged her out seconds before smoke would have engulfed her,” Smith wrote in a follow-up email. “The following trauma was so dreadful that she literally still can’t walk without major assistance.”
Harmon described the outpouring of support as “overwhelming.”
“I didn’t know so many people cared,” Harmon said in a phone interview today, his voice breaking from emotion.
He thanked his golfing buddy friends, Tucker’s Holy Cross Catholic Church, as well as his friends at GPB who he considers family. Plus, random folks have “come out of the woodwork” to offer support, he said. “It’s so touching. There are people I don’t even know. Maybe I covered their kids in school. It’s amazing!”
Harmon is looking for work and a break. He began covering sports in Atlanta in 1992 at what was then WGNX-TV. It soon became the CBS affiliate WGCL-TV. Over the years, he has covered the Olympics, Super Bowls, the Daytona 500 and the World Series. He was let go by CBS Atlanta in 2009 when the sports department was disbanded and outsourced. (It has since been resurrected.) He joined GPB in 2010 and was promoted to sports director in 2012.
GPB recently dropped high school basketball, meaning there was no need for a full-time staff. Bert Huffman, vice president of external affairs and chief development officer, texted me to say GPB will ramp up again a part-time sports staff this summer in time for Friday night high school football.
GPB offered Harmon to return part time to cover football but he said he needs a full-time job to survive.