The annual Matt Mason Memorial Cowboy-Up! Triathlon — Sunday, Aug. 7 — is a living tribute to the fallen Navy SEAL and MCC alumnus. But the event also honors and celebrates the lives of all “who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
The fifth annual triathlon gets underway at 7 a.m. at Crow’s Creek Park at Smithville Lake. Participants will swim (500 meters), bike (11 miles) and run (5K).
Proceeds go to several organizations including Mason’s alma maters MCC and Northwest Missouri State University. Mason attended and played baseball at MCC-Maple Woods before transferring to Northwest.
MCC’s Matt Mason Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually. So far, with proceeds from the triathlon and other donations, more than $18,000 has been contributed to the scholarship fund.
About 350 people took part in the 2015 triathlon, raising about $15,000.
Mason, 37, who himself was a triathlete, was serving as a member of the elite Naval Special Operations Command (SOC) when his U.S. military Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in August 2011.
Thirty-eight people died in the attack including 30 American service members. Of the Americans, 17 were Navy SEALs.
Mason, a right-fielder on the baseball diamond for the Maple Woods Monarchs, was a 1992 Kearney High School grad.
Each year, the Monarchs baseball program selects a player for the Matt Mason Award, an honor given to those who display the same spirit of service and passion for life that Mason exemplified.
The award comes with the scholarship, first awarded in 2013-14. The MCC Foundation, along with Mason’s friends and family, established the scholarship to keep Mason’s name alive and to honor his memory.
Last year on Veterans Day, Mason was honored with the dedication of a memorial in his hometown of Kearney. The memorial, in front of the Kearney Historic Museum at 101 S. Jefferson St., includes a “battlefield cross” — a helmet atop a military weapon, anchored at the bottom by a pair of boots — as well as a large photo of Mason. A 25-foot flagpole behind the memorial flies the U.S. and Navy SEAL flags.
Entry fee for the triathlon is $90, or $50 per member for a relay team of two or three people. Register and get more information at cowboyuptriathlon.com. MCC is a sponsor of the event.
Make a contribution to the Matt Mason Memorial Scholarship here.