PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — Cynthia Morrison loves working at Waffle House. She loves her team, and she loves her customers.
It's what's kept her coming back for 37 years.
But behind her smile and care for her customers, Morrison has been through a lot. She lost her mom and her brother last year, and in March, she was diagnosed with cancer. The chemotherapy left her feeling unwell the other day, to the point she had to miss her shift.
Her absence caught the attention of one of her longtime customers, Joey Godfrey, who knew this was unusual and decided to check on her.
"She leaned towards me and said I was diagnosed with bone cancer in March and my treatments made me so sick I couldn’t come in," Godfrey recapped the conversation on Facebook.
Morrison told him not to worry, but the revelation hit too close to home.
"I finished eating, waited until she was across the restaurant and pulled out all the cash I had in my pocket put it on the table and quickly left," Godfrey wrote. "I drove a few blocks, pulled into a parking spot and I cried like I haven’t cried since the day I got the call my mom had passed away. I don’t know why but this absolutely tore me up to the point it took almost 20 minutes for me to compose myself. I don’t know if it’s because she has waited on me dozen of times since she got the news and I had no idea or maybe because I know she has been with Waffle House for almost 30 years and was proud she had only missed a handful of days."
Even though Godfrey left Morrison all he had with him that day, he wanted to do more.
"When you walk in the restaurant she's smiling," Godfrey said. "She's asking how you are, how you feel. How you're doing, how are your kids...it's always about you. That moved me and I felt like I really want to do something to help her out."
So he set up an online fundraiser to help Morrison ahead of her eight weeks of treatment and an upcoming stem cell transplant. Since launching on May 13, the online fundraiser has met its goal twice, with more than $10,000 raised.
Morrison said she couldn't believe the response. She's simply overwhelmed by the support.
"It's unbelievable," she said. "People writing notes to me and saying they love me and posting on the GoFundMe."
Hearing that the community has enjoyed having her as their waitress touches Morrison's heart, she said, and that love and goodwill may also be working wonders for her treatment. She said her doctor says her numbers look good, and she's determined to beat her diagnosis.
"I just want [the community] to know that I appreciate everything," Morrison said. "It's just, I'm just kind of speechless."