The Biblical definition of Matthew is “gift from God,” so when our first-born Matthew Mangine Junior entered the world on October 13, 2003, his name could not have been more appropriate for us. Right out of the womb Matthew was a happy baby who rarely fussed. Because we were young parents, we believed Matthew was an “old soul” since he was always surrounded by our adult friends. His most recent favorite thing to do on weekend mornings was to grab his Dunkin Donuts iced coffee and sit on the back deck reveling in the outdoors. He was a non-conformist who listened to country music even when his friends begged him to turn it off, and often joked with us, his parents, about his clothing combinations. He loved the colors purple and red. Purple complimented his showy personality, while red represented his club and school soccer team colors. Aside from his love of soccer, Matthew was obsessed with cars, which began at an early age. Disney’s “Cars” was one of his favorite movies, and later on his Uncle would tease him about watching it while “girls” were around. If he was driving, he could easily be distracted when a cool car went by, explaining how he’d have to have that one. Matthew wanted more cars than any single person could own in a lifetime. And while his dream car collection would have been pricey, it was a simple act of kindness that he became known for among family and friends. Our son was a hugger. He would wait in the lobby to give out hugs after school. If you were the recipient of one of these hugs, you understand when we say it made you feel special. Matthew was known by his friends and coaches for his smile, his laugh, and his compassion for others. Our son was loved by all that knew him.
We introduced Matthew to a variety of sports at a young age, but by the 4th grade he wanted to follow in his Dad’s steps and play football. He loved the sport and having his Dad coach him, but his build was not that of a football player. However, the character he developed playing football would be much more powerful for Matthew on a soccer field. In the 7th grade he returned to play soccer competitively in the Northern Kentucky area, where he was born and raised. While most young players love scoring goals and being on offense, Matthew knew the importance of defense, and became a leader and mentor for his defensive role on the field. In 8th grade he earned the opportunity to play for his high school’s freshman soccer team. During his freshman and sophomore year at his high school he served as team captain and was awarded Co-MVP honors. Matthew’s talent and work ethic had him on track to achieve his ultimate goal of playing collegiately.
Tragically, while playing the sport he loved, Matthew collapsed during soccer practice on June 16, 2020 at the age of 16. An Automated Electronic Defibrillator (“AED”) was not used or brought to the scene until the EMTs arrived, even though the high school’s Emergency Action Plan (“EAP”) stated that several AEDs were on site. Matthew passed away following his collapse. The loss of our child was unthinkable, surreal, and something no parent should face.
Matthew’s death also brought to light his acts of kindness that we never knew. The night Matthew passed, we were approached by the coroner who said that a final signature was needed so his organs could be donated. Matthew had just gotten his temporary drivers license in October, but never mentioned his decision to be a donor. One year prior to this, Matthew accompanied me, his mom, to the DMV to renew my license. He watched me check the donor box and asked me what that meant. I told him it was to help other people, and that if there is ever an instance that something happens to him and he has healthy organs to donate, why not give back and possibly save a life? We never talked about it again. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that conversation made an impact on Matthew. His impact is being felt every day in the lives he has improved or saved. Receiving notices from the organ donation center when his organs are used truly helps knowing that a part of Matthew lives on.
The Matthew Mangine Jr. “One Shot” Foundation was started by Kim and Matt Mangine Sr. to educate parents, coaches, and athletes about the number of preventable sudden deaths. We strive to raise awareness about cardiac episodes by educating parents, coaches, and athletes on the importance of properly executing Emergency Action Plans. We advocate for the expanded use of AEDs along with heat/cold therapy devices. Our purpose is to make sure youth and high school athletes are properly cared for because no family should have to endure the pain of a sudden death that is preventable. You have one shot to save a life.