UTG HERO: Mighty Matthew Lives The Dream At Warped Tour

Bert & Mighty Matthew (Copyright Lauren Zaknoun)

Matthew Cech hasn’t celebrated his ninth birthday yet, but I am already envious of his optimism and strength. It is very rare that I decide to write a story like this — in fact, it’s the first one I’ve ever done for UTG.

In July, I sat down and interviewed Bert McCracken from The Used at Warped Tour. After that interview, I received a tweet from a man named Terry Cech, who had something to tell me.

Terry explained to me that a bracelet McCracken was wearing during the interview was actually one that he and his son Matthew had made to help raise awareness and money to pay for medical bills. “Mighty Matthew” has a metabolic disorder which results in a stomach that is incapable of processing food. This makes natural, proper nutrition nearly impossible, so he gets all of his nutritional value through a feeding tube.

Terry’s tweet coincided with Bert’s discussion of his participation with the Living the Dream Foundation he’d mentioned in our interview. I needed to know more. Nothing makes me happier than seeing live music, so I can’t imagine any better way to put a smile on someone’s face, even if it’s for a few hours.

I spoke with Mighty Matthew’s father, who explained a bit about his son’s situation as well as their day spent at Warped Tour.

Check out below the jump to see the heart-warming story and photos of Mighty Matthew’s day in Boston. Be sure to see the video of the crowd cheering him on.

Matthew with his UTG drawing!

Mighty Matthew reps UTG!

Now here is his story:

The Cech family lives in Plattsburgh, NY, hours outside of New York City. The family travels to Boston, MA several times a year for medical visits, so Boston has become a place they are familiar with.

Matthew, the youngest of three boys, has been diagnosed with multiple conditions that hinder his day to day life. Between Mitochondrial Disorder Complex I and III, Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction, Failure to thrive and Glucose Intolerance, he has a lot on his plate at such a young age. Despite the cards he was dealt, he always seems to keep his head up.

The amount of procedures and tests he’s undergone are unfathomable and difficult to keep up with. For that reason, his parents keep a Caringbridge webpage where they update friends and family on his medical condition. Some of the areas they address include Urology, Nephrology, Nutrition, Gastroenterology and his experience at the Augmentative Communication Clinic at the Boston Children’s Hospital.

Matthew and the Cech family regularly participate in fundraising events for the general cause of Mitochondrial Disease in addition to their own expenses. He also has his own Blogspot and even a Facebook page! The Blogspot is used for donations to Matthew’s medical expenses; there is a Paypal link on the right side of the page. We encourage donations, even as small as $1 to the Matthew Cech Benefit Fund, if you have the means to do so.

When Matthew was born, he was healthy until he was nine months old. When table foods were introduced into his diet, he began to lose weight. Since then, the family has been traveling all over the nation to get their son the best medical attention they can. They’ve been to Burlington, Boston, Atlanta, and more.

Considering he has problems with temperature control, Matthew can’t always participate in the things he’d like to because of the weather. “Each day brings new challenges and we never know how he will be. Some days are better than others,” said father Terry Cech.

His courageous attitude is only amplified by the family’s willingness to help others. They contribute to local fundraising events for Make-A-Wish and the Muscular Dystraphy Association, two organizations close to their hearts.

On July 11, Matthew received a trip from the Living The Dream Foundation to go to the Vans Warped Tour in Boston, MA. His father says he loves to dance, no matter the style of music. His favorite band is a celtic-rock band called The Glengarry Bhoys who always include Matthew when they play locally in Upstate New York. Music also contributes to Matthew’s treatment process; he receives music therapy three times a month.

When news broke that he’d be going to Warped Tour, Matthew was excited to see Forever The Sickest Kids who’d he’d grown to love from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies. Two members of the LTDF helped create a schedule of similar bands he may like. Matthew met upwards of ten bands while backstage including The Used, Forever The Sickest Kids and many more.

“We had a blast. Definitely one of the best things we’ve ever experienced,” said Cech.

Although Matthew’s favorite act of the day was Wallpaper (a hip-hop act from California), that probably wasn’t the most memorable part of his adventure.

When The Used took to the main stage to perform, vocalist, Bert McCracken, was wearing one of the Mighty Matthew bracelets. He told the family that he had something special planned. After they performed one song, Bert then called out Mighty Matthew, explaining to the crowd what a real sense of community was.

“I gotta say one thing real quick, about art in general. The reason why we do this is to make people smile and to make people happy. We don’t give a shit about being rich or being fucking famous. Fuck that,” yelled McCracken. He then encouraged the audience to cheer for Matthew as he stood there grinning from ear to ear.

Here is a video of the moment:

“The thing that music does- it changes peoples’ lives and it makes people smile. Living the dream is a nonprofit organization from Southern Cailfornia, they help little kids come out to rock shows that are really sick. We’ve had five or six experiences with people who don’t have a fortunate life or things have somehow gone sour…It’s more than an honor and it’s more than a blessing and we really understand truly what music can do for people. The bigger picture is our responsibility to the world at this point,” said Bert during his interview with Under The Gun.

Living The Dream Foundation is a non profit organization that is part of the clothing company Hurley based out of Costa Mesa, CA. The foundation was started by Scottie Somers who has been involved in the music community for many years. Scottie lives with Cystic Fibrosis and with his connection to the music industry and Hurley he wanted to start a foundation similar to the Make a Wish Foundation but for concerts and give children and young adults that are living with life threatening illnesses a one of a kind experience. For several years we have gone out and partnered with Warped Tour and the Mayhem Festival and given VIP dream days to one deserving kid in each city. The experience includes backstage meet and greets with the bands and lunch and a tour of the stage with them. They get to watch the show from the stage in most cases and have a day to forget about their problems. They write in to apply for the spot in their city and are chosen based on their story and what they are going through. Our mission is “to make dreams come true for children with life threatening afflictions while enriching their lives with the positive message and family of Living The Dream.”- Jason Tabuchi, Living The Dream Foundation

:LTDF Summer Dream Days from LIVING THE DREAM FOUNDATION on Vimeo.

This is what music is all about, people: unity, happiness, and giving a little instead of the “take take take” attitude that our generation has grown up on. I urge you to share the story of Mighty Matthew with others through word of mouth or social. If Matthew’s attitude is any indication, we are just in the introductory chapter of it.

If you have the means, we urge you to contribute to the Living the Dream Foundation or Mighty Matthew’s Benefit Fund located on his blog.

Donate To Mighty Matthews Medical Fund
Living The Dream Foundation

We also urge you to tweet @Bro_McCracken (Bert – The Used) and @JonathanCook (Jonathan – Forever The Sickest Kids) and let them know how a little generosity and friendliness can go a really long way. Thanks!

Written by: Derek Scancarelli
To see Derek’s concert photography, check out D. SKANK PHOTOGRAPHY.

Derek Scancarelli

Derek Scancarelli is a feature writer, interviewer, videographer, photographer, radio-er and more. In 2015, he received his MA in Journalism in New York City. In addition to Under The Gun Review, Derek has worked with Noisey (VICE), Alternative Press, New Noise Magazine and many more. He also pushes some buttons at SiriusXM.

Comedian Jim Norton once called him a serial killer on national radio. Enjoy the internet with him on Twitter.
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