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Matt"s Story: When I sat down with Matt “The Survivor” Smith about creating
his profile for Haymakers for Hope and I asked him…”So, what’s the story
you want to tell?” He told me he wanted to simply tell “the story of why
I’m fighting and what it’s like to be a survivor.”
The dictionary defines survivor as “a person who continues to function or
prosper in spite of opposition, hardship or setbacks” And while it may be
cliché, it may as well just say “See: Smith, Matthew”
When I first met him in the late 80’s I could tell he was a scrapper. In
fact I think our first interaction almost ended in a physical
confrontation. While I’d like to think I would have given him a run for
his money at that point, I had no idea that Matt had already beaten life’s
AstroCytoma is form of cancer that attacks the central nervous system and
can affect thought, speech and strength. This form of cancer accounts for
about 50% of all brain tumors and is probably best known for claiming the
life of the late Senator Ted Kennedy after a stroke and a 15-month battle.
For Matt, the tumor manifested itself in his spine (some say this is proof
that Matt has more backbone than brains.)
For a 4 year varsity soccer player at Malden High, this news would have
been devastating. 2 Intrusive surgeries at Children’s Hospital that
involved opening the spine to remove the tumor would leave permanent nerve
damage to his once spry legs would leave this his athletic frame frail and
weak. But with all survivors, it’s not the body that is important – it’s
the will. And that will carried him through Spaulding Rehab where he
learned to walk again, eventually emerging on the other side with a 8 inch
scar on his spine and 8 halved vertebrates, and a fighting spirit that
would drive him from that day on.
Matt has always been up for a challenge and has harnessed his passion to
help raise money for those less fortunate. A few years back, he got 30+
people to run into the freezing water or Revere beach in February to raise
more than 29 thousand dollars for MA Special Olympics; and last year he
road 50 miles in the Rodman’s Ride for Kids despite never really riding a
bike farther than the corner store.
But as they say before every big boxing match, “…this time it’s personal.”
When he first heard about Haymakers for Hope, he knew that he had to do it.
As he sweats and pushes himself 4 nights a week under the tutelage of
Former World Heavyweight Champion, John Ruiz and trainer Dan Parks at The
Quietman Boxing Gym, he knows he’s not just fighting against another man.
He’s fighting against the disease that’s left its footprint on his
life, and fighting so every child in the same situation can come to be
called a survivor.
Ruiz and Parks have donated their time to help Matt prepare and train for
this amazing event-- and you can help, too. Please support Matt by donating
here [insert link]. Every penny donated will go to the great work of the
folks at The Jimmy Fund and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and help
ensure that the every child gets the same opportunities and great care that
kept Matt fighting on.
-Written by Jeff Hodnett, Bluefish-digital.com
To Check out Matt's Training Album: Click Here