Matt Hillyard periodically attends the Logan Kiwanis Club with his father, Lyle, and was in attendance Wednesday along with his mother Alice, presumably to hear the state senator provide a legislative update to the group.
What Matt didn’t know was that he would be receiving a special recognition, himself. Club President Brian Webster presented Matt with a special award along with a commemorative pin and medallion.
“Matt comes all the time and is an honorary member of Kiwanis,” Webster told the club as he had Matt stand before the group. “Matt, we raised enough money and we wanted to dedicate this certificate of a Walter Zeller Fellowship award to you, in honor of you for coming to Kiwanis and being a part of our group.”
The Walter Zeller Fellowship is named in honor of the club’s original founder and is given to those who donate to The Eliminate Project. It aims to immunize pregnant women to eliminate Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus, or MNT.
“Each club that puts together $1,250 towards that effort can recognize somebody as a Zeller Fellow, or with this Zeller Fellowship,” explained Kiwanis board member Preston Parker. “Internally, we chose Matt Hillyard as that individual to recognize for a specific $1,250 amount that we raised for The Eliminate Project.”
Past president Nate Shields explained that Matt didn’t make the donation himself, but that the entire group came together to make a donation in his honor.
“With Matt, we decided to all put a little bit in,” said Shields. “We all had a vested interest to help Matt out and recognize him.”
“It was a board member’s idea that he pitched in a club meeting,” Parker continued. “We all can’t do $1,250 individually. He said, ‘What if we all contributed a little bit and collectively get the $1250?’
“Then he actually pitched the name, ‘What if we recognize Matt Hillyard?’ It was actually that day that we had $1,250 raised, that day. It worked out really well to do it that way.”
Matt’s father, Lyle, appreciated the gesture.
“I think Matt is really well known for his love and concern, and giving service to everybody,” Lyle explained after the meeting. “I think having that, I think, is a good thing for him to know that people appreciate what he does.”
While giving the award to Matt was a nice thing to do, what it means for helping the health of women and children worldwide is what stands out for Shields.
“It’s like $1.83 for an immunization and it is literally saving a life. If a mother has it she takes a shot and doesn’t pass it to the kid. The reality is, if the kid ends up with this, it’s a very slow, very, very painful death. The muscles contract and the mom has to hold her baby as they go through that.”
“It’s a disease we don’t really know about because we’re not affected by it here,” Webster explained further. “In third world countries it’s a problem.”
The Logan Kiwanis Club, which consists of approximately 20 members, set a goal to raise $34,500 to go toward The Elminate Project and is only about $1400 away from meeting that goal. That means over 17,000 immunizations will be provided worldwide. When the Logan club started to get involved in raising funds for The Eliminate Project, 25 countries struggled with MNT. Today, that number is down to 18.