Matthew Alan Gfeller was a passionate young man from an early age. A natural leader who was comfortable on stage singing or giving a speech, rallying his friends for a great adventure, planning the next vacation with his brother and sister, or leading his team onto the field. His handwritten athletic goals were taped to his bedroom door and bathroom mirror, as daily reminders to motivate hiself. Matthew was a kind brother and a loyal friend and as one peer put it, “Matt had no set criteria on who should be his friend.” As a result, Matthew loved and enjoyed people of all ages and from many different circles. A fisherman and lover of the outdoors, Matthew brought enthusiasm, humor and dedication to Boy Scout Troop 920. As he pursued his journey to Eagle Scout, Matthew loved working with other scouts, overnight hiking and camping, and cooking by the campfire. Matthew started Scouting as a Tiger Cub and achieved his Eagle Scout rank in May of 2008.
Matthew grew up a huge football fan. He and his brother Robbie began playing football with the Pop Warner League for the Southfork Panthers. In middle school Matthew set his goal to make the RJ Reynolds Varsity squad as a sophomore and to start at linebacker. He achieved this goal telling his fellow Reynolds players, “I won’t let you down.” RJR Coach Mike Propst, said that Matt would come to the Reynolds’ weight room to work out with his brother in seventh grade. “He has always been ‘The One That’s Coming,’ at Reynolds and he was,” Propst said. On August 22, 2008 Matthew suffered a severe helmet to helmet collision during his first varsity football game. Tragically, the accident caused a fatal traumatic brain injury. Matthew never regained consciousness and died two days later on Sunday, August 24, 2008.
Matthew was blessed to have entered and exited this world surrounded by those he loved and those who loved him. His spirit lives on in our hearts and he will be remembered for living his life with great courage and passion, unparalleled in his dedication to faith, family, friends, food and football. Matthew’s family and friends have positively impacted the lives of other young people in his memory. If you would like to contribute to our clinical and research missions, please suppoert our center.
Football Head Impacts
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is teaming up with the National Football League to measure on-field head impacts using high-tech mouthguards.
The THRIVE Program was featured at the Hurricanes ice hockey game on Military Appreciation Day.