Remembering the Past, Building the Future

McCordsville United Methodist Raising Funds for Memorial Playground to Honor Matthew Clegg

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Josh Brown

Matthew Clegg was a sweet 7-year-old little boy who had an affinity for Legos, Star Wars, video games and Peyton Manning. He especially loved participating in Vacation Bible School and other social events at his family’s church, McCordsville United Methodist. On May 22, 2016, Matthew developed an upset stomach when the family was at the racetrack for qualification day. His mom and dad, David and Amanda, did what all parents do: they gave their son Gatorade and put him to bed. When Matthew got up the next morning, however, he went into the bathroom, passed out, and never regained consciousness.

Ultimately, doctors discovered a blockage in Matthew’s intestines that ruptured and infected his body. The shocking tragedy left the heartbroken family reeling and asking, “Why?”

In the weeks and months following Matthew’s passing, the congregation at McCordsville UMC rallied around the family, which included daughter Danielle (now 12).

“I could make a phone call and five people would show up just to sit with us — whatever we needed,” Clegg says. “Their prayers and support has helped us tremendously.”

People showed up because the Clegg family is beloved, and everyone adored Matthew.

“In his seven short years on this earth, Matthew gave a lot to the church,” says pastor Daniel Payton. “We wanted to find a way to celebrate Matthew but also give back to the community, so we decided to erect a memorial playground.”


This playground is unique in that when people make a donation in honor of a loved one, the angel’s name will be printed on a plaque that will stand on the playground. Both individuals and area businesses have made donations, and though the initiative just started in mid-October, they have already raised $13,800 of the $20,000 goal.

Clegg posted a tagline on the church’s website that says, “remembering the past, building the future.” Because that’s what it’s all about — continuing a legacy of love, joy and play.

Though still in the planning stages, Clegg hopes to be able to build it in late May and hold a dedication ceremony on June 7: Matthew’s birthday. The playground, which will be open to the public, will include swings, monkey bars, a climbing wall, a balance beam and spring riders — Matthew’s favorite.

“We plan to have a purple dinosaur and a green crocodile because Matthew liked Captain Hook and Peter Pan,” Clegg adds.

To help raise money, the church has organized several fundraisers, including selling fundraiser cards, hosting Movie Nights at the church and selling baked goods at the holiday bazaar. Their next big fundraiser is a beef & noodles dinner on February 10, All donations go to the playground fund. Should the $20,000 goal be exceeded, the church will expand the playground plans and replace wood mulch with rubber mulch, which is costlier.

The church has set up a GoFundMe page, but donations may also be made on the McCordsville UMC website. McCordsville UMC is located at 6247 W. Broadway, McCordsville. To donate to Matthew’s playground, visit

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