What is Matt's Mission Fund and who benefits from the funds they raise?
On Saturday May 23, 2009 my life as I knew it changed forever. While gardening I heard sirens. I am the mother of four children; I can’t explain it but I knew something had happened to my son. I called him there was no answer. I sent him a text “you okay?” there was no response, I knew! Within minutes a police officer was at my front door telling us to leave our girls at home and to get to the hospital as quickly as we could, my son had been in an accident.
With my husband driving, I begged and pleaded with God all the way to the hospital. My child was in an accident and hurt; every parent’s worst nightmare. The emergency room staff took me to my son, CPR was being performed. After looking at Matt, I knew he would not survive. I announced to everyone in the room “I know my son is dying but will you please work on him for a few more minutes”. I went to Matt’s side encouraging him to fight. I told him he was going to be okay and that everything was going to be fine. However when I looked down, there was nothing left in his eyes. Through my tears I remember telling Matt he was a great son and that I would love him forever. At 2:52 p.m. the time of my son’s death was called. I cleaned him and gave him one more kiss before saying goodbye. I was forced to leave my son at the hospital knowing he would be all alone in the morgue; but I had to get home to Elise, Alexa and Mea.
Although Matt did not have an opportunity to graduate from high school, he wrote in his yearbook that he wanted to go to college, get a job, get married, have children, make a difference and live an interesting life. Making a difference is the only goal I can still help him attain. Therefore I chose to turn a negative into a positive; I allowed the love and support that I received from my family, friends and community to propelled me forward and turn grief into a gift by creating Matt’s Mission Fund.
Matt’s Mission Fund is a nonprofit organization. Our mission is to raise funds to help local students in need. To encourage everyone to slow down, drive safe; while raising awareness to the consequences of destructive driving decisions.
Matt’s Mission Fund is very successful. To date we raised over $150,000 which has helped so many students and their families living in our community. The funds were raised by hosting Matt’s Mission 5K Road Race, Joker’s Wild Comedy Night and multiple CAbi parties.
Matt’s Mission Fund donates money every year to the Board of Education earmarking funds for Jerome Harrisons School Night to Care and to families who qualify by sending their children to summer camp. The Matt Picciuto Scholarship is awarded to deserving students. To date eighteen students have received The Matt Picciuto Scholarship totaling $18,000.00. Class dues have been paid for many students who otherwise would not have been able to attend graduation or senior prom. Letter jackets, a computer, tumbling lessons, cheer camp, soccer camp, prom bids and year books have been purchased. Donations have been made to many families struggling with illness, death and various hard times. It is not uncommon to assist a family by paying their rent, electric or phone bills when warranted. We have supported other organizations such as MADD and Open Your Heart Foundation. North Branford High School’s Big Give program and Project Graduation are programs we strongly believe in and support. Monies have been donated to purchase team uniforms and sports packages for students playing various sports. Lunch tickets are available in the Guidance Department year round for students who are hungry and have no money to eat. Copays have been paid for a wheel chair, eye glasses and contacts purchased. Numerous Christmas gifts have been bought for many children and their families. The North Branford Police Department and The North Branford Fire Department work so hard to keep all of us safe, therefore Matt’s Mission Fund board members have voted several times to donated funds to both departments when it has met our criteria. If asked which donation impacted me the most, I would say renting a medical van for a family in need of transportation. This family’s 16 year old daughter was dying of cancer. Her mom needed to take her daughter to her doctor’s appointments and wanted to take her to New York City, the beach and summer camp. This beautiful child died at camp last summer. Knowing we played a part in this family’s cherished memories is worth all our efforts and hard work. Matt is indeed making a difference!
When helping our youth, Matt’s Mission is so much more than monetary charitable donations. We raise awareness to the consequences of destructive driving decisions, encouraging everyone to slow down and drive safe. We funded a town wide anti-speed campaign which we plan to do again this spring. I have spoken for MADD’S Impact program and regularly I speak to students and their parents at local driving schools, high schools and intermediate schools. I have been a guest on Channel 8 Connecticut Style. It is important that people hear my story. Matt was a great person who did well in school and everyone loved. Yet he chose to play a driving game attempting to “catch air”. Matt was not invincible, his car was not his armor and unlike the two other boys in the car with him that day, he was not lucky enough to be spared.
Heaven is forever and without my son, I am devastated. Seeing my sons friends cry at the hospital after I told them Matt died, having witnessed hundreds of children and their parents walking down my street holding candles and feeling the heartache of so many at Matt’s wake and funeral I knew I had to be strong. I knew I had to set a good example not only for my children but for all the children who knew and loved Matt.
Matt’s Mission Fund is now an extension of me. For me our organization represents the love I have for my daughters, husband, friends, family, community and my son. It is that love that propels me forward to do what I do. Thankfully I live in a very supportive community with people who are willing to work with me in memory of a beautiful person, my son Matt Picciuto.