Farmer, firefighter honored with memorial run, scholarship

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It has been more than a year since Matthew “Chew” Lamm died suddenly in a farming accident, but the memories of his carefree, generous spirit have not faded at all. Now his loved ones are working together to honor his memory with a scholarship endowment at Wilson Community College.

“This came about because this mama had in her mind that she never wanted her child to be forgotten,” said Lynda Sue Lamm, Matthew’s mother. “We went to Wilson Community College to talk about doing a scholarship in his name, but the only way to do it forever is to have an endowment. I wanted to do something so he is never forgotten, even after I’m gone.”

What started as a springtime hope solidified when one of Matthew’s friends, Walker Johnson, volunteered to take the lead.

“Walker came to see me around Mother’s Day and he said, ‘Maw, I’ll do it,’” Lamm recalled. “He said Matthew would not ever be forgotten, but we wanted to make sure there was something to honor who he was. No matter what you wanted or needed, my Matthew would make it happen, so this is a way I feel like he can continue to help others.”

Toward that end, Matthew’s friends and family have organized “Chew’s Crawl” that kicks off with a 3-mile run, walk or crawl at 9 a.m. Saturday at Milbournie Free Will Baptist Church at 5106 U.S. 264 Alternate W. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and there will be a variety of family events taking place at the church until 2 p.m., including a bake sale, bounce house, face-painting, silent auction and more.

The run itself will be a rural route that passes Matthew’s home with his tractor and a Sims Volunteer Fire Department truck that was dedicated in the former volunteer firefighter’s honor on display for attendees.

“Matthew wasn’t the fastest man on any team, but he wouldn’t quit. Even if he had to crawl across the finish line, he had the perseverance and he would do just that,” Lamm said. “That is how the crawl name came about. Matthew would say, ‘It don’t matter if you ran, walk or crawl, just so long as you finish.’”

Current forecasts call for overcast skies, but Johnson was adamant the event will go on as planned.

“Matthew was a farmer,” he said. “He worked outside. If it rained, he still worked outside and if it rains, we’re still having this event.”

Lamm said she has been overwhelmed with how many people have jumped on board to help with the crawl toward the goal of raising $10,000 for the endowment.

“If Matthew was here, I think he’d say, ‘Maw, leave them folks alone.’ He would not want any recognition for anything he has ever done and I think most who knew him would agree with that,” she said with a subdued laugh. “I’ve been overwhelmed with everyone who has been so good to us. I feel like they loved him almost as much as I do and that legacy won’t ever go away.”

A link to register for the race and more information is available at facebook.com/ChewsCrawl/. For those who cannot make it to the Saturday event, Milbournie Free Will Baptist is accepting donations toward the endowment.

The scholarships will be available to Wilson Community College students studying agriculture or going through the school’s firefighter academy.

“To know Matthew was pure joy. He brought so much happiness to so many and through this scholarship program, Matthew will continue to live on in our lives and bring happiness to others,” Lamm said. “He loved agriculture and serving in the Sims Volunteer Fire Department for 13 years. He loved people and seeing people come together to support others.

“He left us way too early, but through the efforts of many and this scholarship, he will be remembered and live on in our community.”