‘To have him remembered like this is so amazingly special’
The Matt Buth Foundation, a newly incorporated nonprofit organization, will award scholarships to music students to honor the legacy of DHS senior Matt Buth.
Buth died in 2019 by suicide. But his legacy, foundation President Becky Adesso said, is how he was loved by the DeLand community and beyond.
“Everybody knew Matt,” she said. “I wasn’t super close with him, but Matt was always smiling.”
Getting the ball rolling on the scholarship program and foundation began earlier this year with the help of former DeLand High School Band Director Matthew Boswell, Choir Director Ross Cawthon and a number of parents of band students, including Adesso.
“He was a really remarkable kid, the kind of student who could light up a room; someone I really saw as a model musician,” Boswell told The Beacon. “Though I left DHS to pursue other opportunities after his death, I was really excited about the opportunity to try to keep his legacy alive into the future.”
The project has been a long time coming, and Cawthon said he was happy to see it moving forward.
“Matt was a really special kid,” he said. “We have talked about getting this thing off the ground to honor his memory, and finally, post-COVID, we are starting it up.”
Buth’s parents are involved, too. His mother, Mary Buth, said she is thankful other band parents who knew him took the lead on the project.
“I miss him every day of my life,” Mary Buth said. “I was kind of at a loss at what to do, and they took the ball and ran with it and got it up and running and did all the legwork and the paperwork and hours and hours of planning.”
Buth’s father, David Buth, had the idea to create some kind of scholarship fund, but it never quite materialized. With the foundation off the ground, David Buth wants to donate to the scholarship fund $3,000 he had raised.
“I think this is a wonderful thing,” David Buth said. “Matthew never met a stranger. No matter who he met, they remembered him. If he met you, he was your friend.”
Matt’s parents expressed their gratitude to Adesso and the others for doing the hard work of getting the foundation started.
The exact dollar amount attached to the scholarships is still up in the air, but Adesso said the foundation has enough money to begin awarding at least one college scholarship to a DeLand High School music student at the end of the 2021-22 school year.
It was important the foundation be ready this year, she said, because the 2022 graduating class of band students were the last to have been in band with Buth.
“I totally believe if he had this money, he’d give it away,” foundation Treasurer Jeanne Boothe said. “The love he had and the light he gave made you feel special.”
The foundation is growing into more than just a memorial scholarship, too. The Matt Buth Foundation’s first charity event will be “Brunch for Buth,” a Sunday brunch, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 28, at The Table DeLand. The event will include a silent auction, and a $25 ticket will get you a bottomless brunch. All proceeds will go to the Matt Buth Foundation.
When The Table owner Melisa Reed heard about the Matt Buth Foundation, she asked Adesso to hold the foundation’s first charity event at her restaurant, where Buth was an employee.
“He is one of our original hires from day one,” Reed said. “Matt, to us, was more than just an employee; he was family.”
All of the foundation’s proceeds will go toward scholarships for music students at DeLand High School — and, in the greater Volusia County area, because, as Adesso pointed out, “Everybody knew Matt. Remaining funds after paying for scholarships will be donated to local suicide-prevention and mental-health-counseling efforts.
“To have him remembered like this is so amazingly special,” Mary Buth said. “It’s a tribute to the kind of human that he was. He was always generous with his time. He loved everybody he met, and he always strived to find the good in people and make them better.”