18 Holes of Golf & 1,000 Sandwiches: Just Do It!

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It has changed my life. I now have a new normal life. Never take a minute with your children for granted. I was texting and laughing with Matt one minute and 13 minutes later, he was gone. Cathy, Matt Dyas' Mom

This past Monday, June 8, 2015 was truly an extraordinary day. A day where over 110 golfers played 18 holes of golf in memory of a remarkable young man and more than a dozen women made 1,000 sandwiches for the low-income families in our community. This day was special in so many ways, including the truth that when a plan is laid out, a huge difference can be made in our sphere of influence in just a few short hours!

October 1, 2011 started out like any other day. A fall, football Saturday, certainly a favorite day for many folks. In Carrollton, Georgia on the beautiful campus of The University of West Georgia, students, faculty, and fans were busy with festivities surrounding Homecoming Saturday. In a matter of seconds, everything changed for the family of 20-year-old college student, Matt Dyas, when a car struck his motorcycle killing him instantly. Matt’s Mom, Cathy was hours away, when she received news of the accident, having just arrived at a destination for some time with girlfriends. Matt, a 2009 graduate from nearby Harrison High School  was known for many things , some of which are his exceptional golf score as a member of the West Georgia team, his role as a younger brother to Quinn and a big bro to Mary Cat,  son to David, a friend to countless, and a grandson, cousin, nephew to many.  Most of all, Matt Dyas was known for his strong faith and his giving spirit. “Just Do It” was his mantra. Matt was also known for his interest in mission trips, venturing to both Russia and Ukraine before his passing. I would never attempt to tell my friend, Cathy: “I know how you feel.” As I have learned more about the potential stages of grief, I have also realized that everyone grieves in their own personal way. In most cases, I do believe the “shock stage” comes first to protect us from the overwhelming truth of the tragedy that has occurred. The anesthetic shock can last a few hours, or even a few days. I am certain this was the case with Matt’s family when they heard the news just minutes after he had been in touch with them through texts and phone calls. (Since posting this in 2015, I have written three posts which might prove helpful for those who are grieving: 4 Ways To Best Help The Bereaved , A Grace Disguised, and How The Soul Grows Through Loss. 5/4/16)

Over 1,000 friends and family members gathered on Monday, October 7, 2011 in memory of Matt Dyas. Quinn, Mary Catherine and many other friends wore red t-shirts with large white letters stating Matt’s birthday and his mantra: Just Do It! IMG_3636 IMG_3637Matt’s mother, Cathy, called “Ma”  by Matt since he was a boy, bravely shared a poem called The Dash with the congregation. It was a beautiful day of celebration even amidst the devastating loss that comes with losing your son.

A few months after Matt’s unexpected passing, his family began to talk about something they could do in Matt’s memory. They soon decided on a golf tournament and determined the first one would be held right around Matt’s 21st birthday, June 2, 2012.  I am unsure as to what my response would be in these same circumstances. What I do know is how this family has chosen to respond to their grief is one I can only pray I would emulate in similar circumstances.

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L to R, Matt’s sis, Mary Catherine, his big brother, Quinn, and his Ma, Cathy on June 8, 2015 Brookstone Country Club at the Matt Dyas Golf Tournament
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Matt Dyas Golf Tournament Warm-up on June 8, 2015.

Soon after saying good-bye to her middle child, Cathy began to consistently put up positive, challenging posts on her Facebook page: “Make a difference like Matt did! What can you do to help someone out today?” or “What random act of kindness can you show someone today? Make a difference like Matt did!” Between the inspiring celebration of life service paired with these posts from Cathy, many lives have been changed for the better since Matt Dyas took his leave so unexpectedly in October 2011.

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Matt’s Aunt Heather (L) and Matt’s girlfriend, Haley handle the check-in table at the tournament.

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Matt’s Ma, Cathy makes a sandwich for a less fortunate child in our community.
People are made of stories, not atoms. Korean Proverb

I was honored to be a part of the fourth annual Matt Dyas Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament this past Monday, June 8, 2015. This Scholarship Fund in memory of Matt has raised thousands of dollars impacting more young people with each passing year. Seven Harrison High School seniors have earned scholarships in Matt’s name along with 2 University of West Georgia students. This fund has also sent five students on international mission trips. In addition, the Matt Dyas Memorial Scholarship Fund has helped Amateur Golfers, James White and Ollie Schniederjans, both graduates of Harrison High School , get their start with a golf career following their completion of a  degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. It is easy to see the positive, enormous ripple effect that has formed following the death of an amazing young man, Matthew Benjamin Dyas. This year’s tournament was the best yet as Cathy added the challenge of making 1,000 sandwiches for the Must Ministries Summer Lunch Program.

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Making sandwiches! Matt’s Grandmother (R , striped shirt) joined in on our project and ten-year old Ben (center) came along with his Mom, Jennifer, to help us while his big brother Josh played in the golf tournament.
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L to R, friends from the Charlotte, NC area join us for this special day, Lori and Sandra with Matt’s Ma, Cathy, and Jennifer standing in front of our 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Thanks to Kim and her daughter, Mallori, who combined the peanut butter and jelly to make our job easier!
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Packing lunch boxes for the golfers. Chic fil A donated sandwiches!
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Rance, a young man who only met Matt Dyas one time at a UGa frat party shared at the closing of the golf tournament. This is part of what Rance told the crowd: “Though Matt and I only met once, it was like we had known each other forever, we had so much in common, and meeting Matt was unforgettable for me. I try to SHINE MY LIGHT every day like Matt did and I hope you all will do the same!”
The deeper the sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Khalil Gibran
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Cathy and me during tournament warm-up.

How will you and I make a difference in someone’s day like Matt did?

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