‘Matthew’s Miracles’ honors South Jersey child killed by police cruiser
Three days after Christmas last year, Gloucester County 10-year-old Matthew McCloskey texted his mother, Michelle Harding, to ask if he could sleep over at a friend's house during the holiday vacation. But Matthew never got to the sleepover.
While crossing a residential street in Franklinville after looking at Christmas lights with his friends, Matthew was struck by a police cruiser, responding to a call, traveling approximately 80 mph through the neighborhood. He was killed instantly, mere blocks from his own home.
"It was a tragedy that no parent should ever have to go through, but yet it still happens, and it happened to me," said Harding, who soon after decided to start a foundation in her son's honor.
That foundation, Matthew's Miracles, provides financial and emotional support to families who have experienced similar losses. For Harding, it's a way for Matthew's positive energy and outlook on life to endure.
"He woke up every day with the goal of making everyone happy, and everyone smile," she said.
Harding said when she launched the foundation this past spring, she would read about families going through the same feelings of loneliness that she was, and then reach out to them. Unsure of how these complete strangers would react, she was relieved to find they were happy she had connected with them. Those connections, in turn, continue to bring her happiness.
"In the beginning I was a little bit, you know, leery -- like, 'Oh, do they want to hear from me?'" she said. "But it actually really does, because I want to hear from them."
Matthew's Miracles specifically helps the children of the families it serves, by doing what Harding said her town failed to do following the accident.
"We also provide counseling to children who've witnessed a tragedy, because Matthew's two little friends that were with him that night, they saw him die in front of them," she said.
Right now the foundation has a local focus, helping South Jersey families throughout the greater Philadelphia region. But Harding said she is thrilled with how much her cause has grown in such a short time, and hopes she can expand the organization's reach even further.
"I just do the best we can, and we're just hoping to -- I would love to branch out and grow as big as I can," she said.
Matthew's Miracles is gearing up for its first major fundraiser, a Halloween Bash at Masso's Crystal Manor in Glassboro on Friday, Oct. 30. Halloween was one of Matthew's favorite holidays.
For tickets to the event, and more information about what the foundation does and who it serves, go to matthewsmiracles.org.
Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's evening news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and listen for his live reports Monday through Thursday nights between 6:30 and 11 p.m.