MATT'S STORY

Matt Alsfeld was a 16-year-old high school student just finishing his sophomore year of high school when he died from suicide.

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From the moment he was born, Matt was a delightful person. His name means Gift from God, and he lived up to that every day. His intelligence involved exploring, and as a baby and toddler it meant that he touched everything he saw and tried to eat it. Once he started walking, it meant he needed to crawl into creepy places and climb onto high ones. He relished new experiences and plunged headlong into them—sometimes this meant throwing himself into the water before he could swim and laughing even as he coughed and sputtered.

Matt's talent as an athlete emerged early; he could walk onto a field and excel at whatever sport was being played. When Matt played a sport, he gave it his all. He played soccer for several years, ran track, and practiced karate. He spent hours in the backyard with his basketball and hoop. The family tried skiing one day; Matt glided down the mountain over and over on a snowboard while everyone else snowplowed on the bunny slope. Matt put skates on and was immediately able to rush around the ice forwards and backwards with a hockey stick and a puck.

Matt loved the other sports he played; he loved skateboarding, parkour, and biking—but none of that compared with how much he loved football. He learned everything he could about football; he followed college and NFL teams, and memorized player stats. There was no off-season for him; he studied plays, he learned drills, he worked on conditioning. He encouraged other kids to play, and he was a positive influence on his teammates.

Football was not all hearts and flowers and perfection for Matt. He wasn't an aggressive person by nature; he didn't like hurting other kids. When he started high school football, he learned about attending hours of practice every day, and he was quite dismayed to discover that it would not consist of running back and forth catching passes. It was hard work, and sometimes he didn't feel like going. He got mad when he didn't get to play in a game, and he hated making mistakes on the field. But he always rallied and kept showing up, and he did his best to keep a positive attitude even when he was complaining.

Matt was a kind thoughtful person who cared about other people, worried about people's feelings, and always used his manners. His biggest pet peeve was anyone being mean to another person. His true character was his unwavering empathy and kindness. He was a thoughtful kid, and really considered advice from other people; he made up his own mind about whether he would take the advice, but at least he strongly considered it. Being a good person was important to him, and he took pride in his interactions with adults and peers.

Matt would never have deliberately hurt his parents, sisters, or any of his family. One morning, he woke up in a cloud of anxiety and depression that we had all been trying to help him fight, and he couldn't see any other way around his troubles. He could see only two options: life as agony, and death as reprieve.

The only way our family can cope with the anguish of his loss is to become the instrument of his compassion and acceptance of other people. The Fund is Matt's voice reaching out to other kids the way he would have, had he lived.

The Matt Alsfeld Memorial Fund is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization developed in memory of Matt Alsfeld and is dedicated to providing funding for education pertaining to suicide awareness and prevention for youth, and support services for families affected by suicide.

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