How would life be different if you approached it from a different view? Our son, Matt, had a favorite quote by Abraham Lincoln: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” That was a quote he lived by before he was diagnosed with cancer and the legacy he hoped he would leave for all that knew him.
After an initial terminal cancer diagnosis in July 2006, Matt bravely fought his mucosal melanoma until he passed away in June 2009. He was 31 and left behind two children, Lauren (age 10) and Ben (age 8), along with his loving wife, Veronica. Matt is survived by his parents, two sisters, a brother and large family of aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends.
Filled with a big heart and having a different perspective than others, Matt never met a stranger. He welcomed everyone he met with a warm smile and his positivity was contagious. Matt also shared his many talents with those around him. With a degree in Recording Arts Technology, Matt lived his dream of working on Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee before returning home to Indiana. Since he was a teenager, Matt worked alongside his father running a family DJ service that played at wedding receptions and school dances throughout the area. With music in his soul, he also was a DJ for a local radio station.
Matt also excelled at soccer and played since junior high. As an adult, he coached his daughter’s preschool soccer team in Tennessee. When he moved back to Indiana, Matt became the Varsity Soccer Coach for his old high school. His players referred to him as “Coach Mo” and as much as he loved them, they considered him a hero. He went to all their practices and games, even through his cancer treatments, showing them his Jimmy V mantra to “never give up, never EVER give up.” Even today, a trophy in his honor exists and is played for each soccer season. When his players came to his visitation, they all gathered together and wore their jerseys. They played for him and he lived for them. In the fall following his death, his “boys” won the local conference championship after dedicating their season to Matt’s memory.
In honor of those students and in memory of Matt, an endowment fund was established with the local community foundation to provide participation fees, individual player equipment and other expenses for students involved in the high school soccer program. The fund continues to grow with contributions being made in Matt’s memory.
Matt was also very involved in his small rural church, singing in the church choir, participating in the church youth group while growing up, and designing and installing the church sound system. While he was ill, his church family asked how they could help. Matt’s generosity and concern for others are evident in his response that others needed help more than he did. When his wife suggested a fund that would at least help with transportation costs to and from treatments, Matt only agreed after it was clear that the fund would help others, not just him. Thanks to the ladies of the church, Matt’s Mission was born with the scripture verse Matthew 25:24-36 as its guide and is still providing assistance with transportation expenses for those in the community requiring extensive travel for medical treatment.
While Matt was not able to donate his organs because of the cancer, the nurse on staff the evening Matt passed away asked his wife if he would want to donate his corneas. She explained that Matt’s donation would give up to two people the gift of sight. After Matt passed away and we had our moments with him, the donation center representatives arrived to gather Matt’s donation. In a time of sorrow, knowing Matt was still a selfless hero meant so much to his family. We take great comfort in know that somewhere out there are two individuals have the gift of sight because of Matt’s donation. Perhaps they, too, have a different perspective because of the view.
Courtesy of VisionFirst – Indiana Lions Eye Bank