By Kimberly Davis

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Northeast Philadelphia community held a vigil outside of a hospital for a man known to so many through sports, his neighborhood or his job. COVID is taking its toll, so much so that he’s now on a special machine for his heart and lungs.

A husband and father of two is in the fight of his life against COVID-19. The Northeast Philly community is rallying around him tonight in prayer.

“Everybody that’s here loves Matt. He’s just a really special guy,” longtime friend Stephanie Bennett said.

It’s been four weeks since Matt Evangelist has seen his family and loved ones. He was hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus.

Evangelist is currently unconscious, and his loved ones are praying for a miracle.

Dozens gathered outside of Penn Presbyterian Medical Center to uplift the Frankford resident and his family in prayer.

The 52-year-old needed more than a ventilator. He’s now on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine.

The machine temporarily takes over the work of the heart and lungs so they can rest and heal.

“People are walking around without masks and are thinking it’s not real, and I think a lot of us thought that until it hits home, until it hits close to home, then reality sets in. This really is real and we need to take it seriously,” Bennett said.

Evangelist’s loved ones know he’s fighting for his life, and they’re hoping prayer changes his current circumstance.

“We’re praying for him, but he’s in this fight. We’re in it with him. We’re in it ’til the end of this fight, and he’s going to win,” longtime friend and business partner Fran McIntyre said.

The Northeast community has raised nearly $93,000 dollars through a GoFundMe campaign.

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Kimberly Davis