A Run to Honor a Friend and Help Traumatic Brain Injury Research
Three close buddies of Matthew “Matt” Gfeller dreamed up a
fun way to raise money in their friend’s memory.
John Lineberger, Camden Francis and Thomas Keshian knew that
Matt loved running, live music and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Thus was born the Matt
Gfeller Memorial Doughnut Run, which has since become a Winston-Salem
tradition. It honors the 15-year-old Reynolds High School sophomore, who was
starting his first varsity football game in 2008 when he suffered a fatal
traumatic brain injury.
Last year’s Gfeller Run raised more than $50,000 for
traumatic brain injury prevention, research and treatment. Half of the money
goes to the Childress Institute for Pediatric Brain Trauma located at Wake
Forest Baptist Medical Center. The other half goes to the Matthew Gfeller
Sports-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Matt’s father, Robert G. “Bob” Gfeller, is executive director
of the Childress Institute, as well as vice president and chief marketing
officer of Wake Forest Baptist. He knows the importance of fundraising to the
Childress Institute and the Gfeller Research Center. Beyond support for
research, he says, the doughnut run raises the profile of traumatic brain
injury in children and ways to prevent injury.
In addition, the run itself is a way to remember Matt, a
teenager with a joy not just for sports, but for life. Matt was a talented
stage performer, he loved fishing and the outdoors, and he had earned the rank
of Eagle Scout.
And, of course, there was his love of doughnuts, especially
The 5K run is for competitive runners, as well as
neighborhood walkers and families. Students from Reynolds High provide music
along the course. There are doughnut and no-doughnut categories; those who
choose the Krispy Kreme option are greeted by students at the halfway point to
eat a half-dozen. Bob Gfeller says his son liked to take six Krispy Kremes,
“stack ‘em and squish ‘em.”
He says one of the most rewarding things about the race
occurs later—when he receives letters of thanks from participants.
After the most recent race, for example, Bob Gfeller
received a letter from a young man who wrote about how years earlier, when he
was small, Matt had taken him “under his wing’’ and helped him understand the
fundamentals of football. The young man credited Matt Gfeller with giving him
the confidence that has helped him in life.
More About The Matt Gfeller Memorial Doughnut Run
race has raised more than $250,000 overall since it began in 2009. This year’s
8th Matt Gfeller Memorial Doughnut Run will be Saturday, Nov. 12.
More information is available at matthewgfellerfoundation.org/doughnutrun/.