Pitching in for Matt’s dream

Pitching in for Matt’s dream

Courtesy News Graphic

CEDARBURG — For the past three years, the Malkowski family of Grafton has been working to ensure a lasting legacy for their son and brother, Matt, in the community that he loved and served during his short 18 years of life.

Matt, a Grafton High School senior and member of the Grafton Volunteer Fire Department, died in April 2010 from injuries sustained in a car accident the previous month.

In 2017, Matt’s parents, Jan and David, along with their daughter Emily and many of Matt’s and Emily’s friends, began working with Grafton Little League to raise money for what they affectionately call a “Field of Dreams” in Matt’s memory. Matt was a dedicated athlete and proud alum of Grafton Little League, and his family could think of no better way to honor him than to help get the organization a brand-new senior field at the GLL’s developing fields complex on Lakefield and River Bend roads.

The third annual Pitch for Matt Cornhole Tournament took place Saturday at Circle B Recreation. Last year’s Pitch for Matt tournament raised $15,000, and thanks to recent funding commitments from Ansay & Associates and Mel’s Charities, it looks like Matt’s field will be able to be planted in 2019, with a dedication tentatively planned for 2020 – the 10-year anniversary of Matt’s death. “We couldn’t do this without community support. It just wraps its arms around us,” said Jan Malkowski.

“This community is just off-the-charts, they really are,” she said. “We had an awesome day and got close enough to our goal that we can for sure plant Matt’s field this year! Such a blessed family we are.”

Photos by Art Dahlke

Playing in the first round are TJ Obbink, far left, and his partner Luke Kaat, far right, both of Cedar Grove, against Jeff Holmes, Grafton, second from left, and his partner, Nick Horrigan, Cedarburg, of Cedarburg.

Volunteers who help keep the event running smoothly are Mary Beth Weissinger, Grafton, Laurel Bath, Grafton, Anne VanLangen, Cedarburg, Sherri Scofield, Grafton and Terri Knauer, Grafton.

Jan Malkowski said the event would not be successful without the help of this year’s donors, Mel’s Charities and Ansay & Associates. The two groups donated money for the completion of the parking lots and planting grass at the field. Pictured are Mike Ansay, Jan and Dave Malkowski, Tom Stanton of Mel’s Charities and Tom Meaux of Ansay & Associates.

Friends of Matt who attended the event are, back row, Jake Bertrand, CJ Koehler, Corby Oleson, Zach Keefe and Eric Dickmann; middle row, Tim Grams, Josh Lorbecki, Joe Grams and Erik Boelkow; and front row, Emily VanLangen and Katie Kelley.

The hall at Circle B Recreation was filled with the thud of bean bags as 128 players gathered Saturday to raise funds at the Pitch for Matt event.

The Malkowski family, Jan, Emily and Dave, said the Little League field on the southeast side of Grafton will be Matt’s “field of dreams” when it’s completed in 2020, the 10th anniversary of Matt’s death. Emily is holding Aspen, a miniature Pomapoo, the prize for one of the live auctions.

Friends and family of Tyler Buczek show their support for Matt Malkowski with their attendance at the Pitch for Matt event Saturday. Tyler Buczek, who was 15 years old, was swimming in Lake Michigan when a riptide suddenly pushed him out to deep water. In his memory, the Buczeks host a Bags4Buczek cornhole tournament, this year Sept. 21. Last year’s proceeds helped a young lady who needed a liver transplant cover her medical bills. The committee will meet soon to choose this year’s recipient. From left are Dan Dallgas, Suzy Stone, Joe Buczek, Chris Jackson, Therese Dallgas, Gary Knaub, Jenny Knaub, Rhonda Dannenberg and Drew Horwich. Seated is Kamryn Knaub.

Friends of Matt’s sister are, back row from left, Nick Gaulke, Nic Schuller, Mitchell Bartlein, Adam Woelbeking, Matthew Uselding, Marty Franzkowiak, Raymond Norene and Janaye Norene; and front row, Angie Wick, Emily Malkowski, Anna Penkwitz, Kathleen Cileppe and Logan Porterfield.