As a father, friend, anchor, and giver, it is sometimes hard to believe how much WMC-TV anchor Joe Birch can fit in to a 24 hour day.
For more than a decade, Joe has taken the same route, week after week, for MIFA's Meals on Wheels program.
"The class on his route means as much to him as life," MIFA Meals supervisor Zettie Sims said.
Joe formed a special bond with the Wrights, one of the couples on his route. When Mr. Wright was put in a nursing home, Joe made sure Mrs. Wright was not left behind, even organizing the remodeling of her home.
Last year, MIFA created the Joe Birch media award, and to honor their favorite volunteer, MIFA made Joe the first recipient.
Joe's contributions continue through his work with St. Jude, where he runs marathons, profiles patients, and emcees events. Joe always goes the extra mile, not only running in marathons, but raising more than $50,000 to run as a St. Jude Hero.
Joe also helps St. Patrick's Church, and founded the Gibson Guitar 5K race 12 years ago, which supports the work of the St. Patrick's Learning Center.
"Some people can talk the talk, but who really walks the walk? I think with the 5K, Joe certainly walks the walk, and has for 12 years," said Father Tim Sullivan at St. Patrick's.
You can trace the roots of Joe's generosity back to his college days at Christian Brothers University. CBU's late president, Brother Vincent Malham, took us back to Joe freshmen year, remembering how he was an ordinary student whose soon-to-be familiar voice couldn't quite make the cut with the school's singing group.
"I had to end up saying, you know, we're not going to be able to take you in the CB singers," Malham recalled. "It's not your voice. It's a great voice. It's your ear."
Joe then began singing a different tune, and CBU helped get Joe his internship with WMC-TV. Ever since, Joe has maintained a close relationship with the university.
This year, he received the Maurellian Medal at Baccalaureate, an honor given to someone who lives the values of CBU, not only within the institution, but in the greater community.
"Do you know what? He could have been a brother, because he lives so very much what we brothers and our colleagues try to do," Malham said. "So Joe Birch, as you can tell, is one of my heroes."