The family of 14-year-old Matthew Greiner had no idea he would be chosen as Grand Marshal of the APBA Gold Cup Unlimited Hydroplane race sponsored by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Hydrofest (August 24-26). After all, Matthew is just a teenager; and the APBA Gold Cup, first presented in 1904, is the ultimate motorsport prize, and is considered the most prestigious powerboat racing trophy in the world. The Gold Cup began its relationship with Detroit more than 100 years ago and it is the oldest annual Unlimited Hydroplane race in the world.
But the incoming freshman at Lakeview High School has been surprising his family since he was a young boy, and this is one more important surprise his family can share with this young man. Matthew's immediate family consists of mom Laura; dad Rick; and brothers Ronald, Owen, Sebastian, and Abraham.
Matthew suffers with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). It is a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. It is one of nine types of muscular dystrophy.
This affliction has not stopped Matthew. In fact, this young man has been working this past year as the 2018 MDA Michigan Ambassador. He has been speaking at summer camps throughout the state, telling others how it important it is for them to enjoy life and be a kid—plus showing a strength shown by few individuals of any age.
"In the past two years, we selected Keith Crain (Crain Publishing) and Paul W. Smith (WJR Radio). When we were looking for a Grand Marshal this year, the DREI (Detroit Riverfront Events, Inc.) Board had many names in mind, but one stood out—Matthew Greiner," said DREI President Mark Weber. "He has made an impact and a difference for many individuals in our state, and for those who have worked our hydroplane races."
Matthew has helped his father Rick and brother Owen as a volunteer for several years at the Detroit hydroplane races. He plays the piano, plus percussion in the school band, participates in archery at the MDA Summer Camp and loves video games. He knows the Unlimited boats and loves the sport.
"I don't know what to say," Matthew told a crowd of approximately 150 individuals at the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Hydrofest Volunteer Appreciation Dinner (Thursday, June 21st) at The Roostertail during the official Grand Marshal announcement. "This is an honor, and I will do everything I am asked to do as the Grand Marshal."
Matthew already has been hosting MDA Family Day at the Detroit hydroplane races; and with his position as Grand Marshal this year, MDA Family Day could become an an even larger gathering at Stockton Park throughout the weekend.
"We are working to find sponsors to help give the MDA clients from Children's Hospital, their families, and all attendees an even larger event," added Weber. "We want everyone to enjoy watching the races, but the big thing is creating more awareness about the affliction and make it a fun day."
DMD is caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact. Symptom onset is in early childhood, usually between ages 3 and 5. The disease primarily affects boys, but in rare cases, it can affect girls.
Matthew has set up a Facebook for his MDA Muscle Walk Team. The group page is intended to exchange inspiration, updates, and a place for individuals and families with MDA to get away from the common strains of Muscular Dystrophy. You can find it at - "Matthew's Cohorts - Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy."
For more information about Muscular Dystrophy go to https://www.mda.org/ or call 1-800-572-1717.
A fleet of eight H1 Unlimited Hydroplane teams, along with ten boats from the Hydroplane Racing League, will take to the river for testing on Friday, August 24, followed by races on Saturday and Sunday, August 25–26. For more information on the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Hydrofest Gold Cup go to http://detroitboatraces.com/ or call 313-329-8047.
Bruce Madej (behind podium) and Mark Weber look on as Matthew Greiner speaks to the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Hydrofest Gold Cup volunteers dinner at The Roostertail in Detroit.