The Matthew J. Schnirel Foundation
The Matthew J. Schnirel Foundation


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Total number of messages: 110
Laur - 2013-04-22 00:05:01
Happy would-be 30th birthday to Matt! We celebrated his life at Jack's Place for another memorial fundraiser to help raise money for his scholarship fund at UB!  It was nice to have so many people who love Matt together under one roof.  Thank you to all who thought of Matt this weekend and to all those who came out to help honor him.  I appreciate all of your love and support.

Laur - 2013-03-08 14:56:55
Two upcoming events:
Matt's birthday memorial fundraiser on April 19, 2013 at Jack's Place from 8pm-11pm!
2013 MJS Annual Golf Tournament on July 6, 2013 at Chestnut Hill Country Club from 10am - 8pm.
We hope to see you there!!

Stephanie Poray - 2012-11-27 13:34:39
Dear Schnirel Family,
I wanted to let you know that I passed the July Bar exam and I am waiting to be sworn in as an attorney by the 4th Dept. Appellate Division in Rochester. I wanted to thank you again for awarding me Matt's scholarship. It brought me one step closer to becoming  an attorney. Hope to see you soon and I hope all is well.
Best regards,
Stephanie Poray

Laur - 2012-09-23 21:41:38
There will be a Halloween Bash on Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 8pm at American Legion (60 Main Street, Tonawanda, NY 14150).  All proceeds benefit the Matthew J. Schnirel Foundation.  $20 donation includes bottled beer, top shelf liquor, snacks, music, and costume contest!  

Laur - 2012-04-21 15:27:26
Happy 29th birthday to Matt!!!  We will be honoring him tonight with a fundraiser at Jack's Place to raise money for the memorial scholarship at UB Law School!  

Laur - 2012-04-07 12:28:10
The Matthew J. Schnirel Committee presented the 2nd annual MJS Scholarship Award to Stephanie Poray on March 28th at UB Law School.  Stephanie is a wonderful young lady and we are happy we can help her reach her goals.  Another successful scholarship award in Matt's honor all thanks to everyone's donations and support!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  

Laur - 2012-02-24 14:07:07

Worth reading:

The Journey

Before we go through a loss like this, we assume that grief is like falling into a deep hole.  We think we will start climbing a ladder and as we get closer to the top things start getting brighter and brighter and we keep feeling better and better until we finally step out into the sunshine where the birds are singing and beautiful music is playing and our grief is over and we are then officially “over it.”

Instead, I have found it is like being plunked down into the middle of a mountain range.  We start on the top, with the breathtaking view, when life is wonderful.  We are just walking along, basking in the sun and the beautiful scenery when suddenly we fall off a cliff.  Now we are lying in a deep, deep valley:  bruised, confused, hurt, scared, and lonely.  We soon realize that there is no easy way out, no rescue in sight.  The only way out is to do it ourselves.  So we start working our way up the mountainside, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, and often stumbling.  It is very hard, very discouraging, and very exhausting work.  Finally we reach the top and see the sun again for awhile.  Maybe the top will be flat and we’ll get to spend a little time up there enjoying it, or maybe it is very steep and as soon as we get there we have to start back down the other side into the next valley again.

The one thing we notice is that there are mountains as far as the eye can see.  Somehow, we have to make our way through them if we are ever to get out.  That thought can be overwhelming and cause us to give up for awhile.  But eventually we realize once again that the only way out is to keep going, so we start again:  down one mountain and up the next.  And sometimes on the journey, after a particularly hard stretch, we think “I’m so glad I finally made it through that.”  And then we stop and look around and realize that we’ve been here before.  All this work and we’ve gone in a circle and we’re going to have to do it all again!  And sometimes as we are climbing, we look up to see if we are getting any closer to the top, and we see a boulder heading our way.  If we are fortunate, we manage to avoid it.  But usually we can’t, and it hits us head on and sends us tumbling back down to the bottom.

Sometimes when we are in the deepest part of the valley, we just sit, exhausted.  And we might notice some things around us that we never saw before:  flowers and animals and a gentle breeze in the cool of the valley.  There is a world down in the valley that we never even knew existed, and there is beauty in it.  And sometimes at night, when all is quiet, we can hear the others who are in the valley weeping.  And it is then that we realize that we are not alone, that others are making this journey too.  And we realize that we share an understanding of the journey and of the world of the valley that most others don’t.  And it gives us strength to start the climb all over again.

As we make this journey, we start to notice that we are becoming a little bit stronger.  When we get to the rough patches we now see that we are shaken but don’t always fall.  We find that sometimes we can walk upright now, instead of just crawling.  And sometimes we can see a rough spot ahead and manage to find a better way around it.  And once in a while we crest a mountain and see that the top is very flat and very beautiful, and we get to spend quite a while resting and recovering on the top before starting down again.  And we notice that we are getting closer to the edge of the mountains; they seem to be getting a little smaller.  The mountains are not as tall, and the valleys are not as low or as wide.  In fact, we can now see the foothills, and it gives us hope.

And throughout this journey, we see the others who are travelling it as well, sometimes at a distance, and sometimes up close.  And we encourage each other to keep going and to watch out for certain things.  We talk about the journey and the world of the valley.  Finally, someone else who understands.  And we cry together when it’s just too hard.  And sometimes, we catch a glimpse of someone who has made it to the foothills.  And we become even more determined to keep going because someday, we too, will make it there.

Barb Schilling-Studer - 2011-12-22 17:13:36
Lauren, that quote is well written and very true.  I am glad you have decided to have joy and happiness in your life as I know Matt would want that for you.  Like you said, his strength will be with you when you need it the most.  At Christmas time, treasure your memories from the past and create new memories that will also be special for you. I do miss Matt and will always be glad that he was a part of our family. 

Laur - 2011-12-17 16:39:26
"You can shed tears because he is gone, or you can smile because he lived.  You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back, or open your eyes and see all that he's left.  Your heart can be empty because you can't see him, or you can be full of the love you shared.  You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.  You can remember him only that he is gone, or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.  You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what he'd want:  smile, open your eyes, love and go on."

I will admit, for a long time I only saw the first side to this quote.  Slowly I am trying to find more happiness and joy in life.  It's been a long, difficult road, but thankfully I have a truly amazing family and wonderful friends who have helped me along the way.

I am grateful for having had Matt as such an influential and special person in my life.  He has helped shape me into a person I am proud to be, and his spirit will always be a source of strength for me when I need it most.

I hope everyone's holidays are merry and bright!  Have a Sam Adams or a shot of Patron for Matt!  :)

Lauren - 2011-09-05 12:47:00
When the sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky, "Motorcycle Drive By" is playing in my car, and the wind is blowing in my face, it makes me think to myself how much Matt would enjoy these days.  Matt's favorite time of year was the summer.  I remember the first summer I met him nine long years ago, lifeguarding at Ransom Oaks Pool.  It was one of the best summers of my life...we were so young and carefree.  Matt cherished every summer, from his childhood days at Sauble Beach, to sports filled summers playing baseball, lifeguarding, days at the cottage, endless concerts, bonfires, friends, 4th of July party's at Mikes, and everything in-between.  Matt's final summer was not a typical one.  It consisted of studying day and night for the NY State Bar Exam.  He would wake up, eat breakfast while I packed his lunch, and then he'd be out the door to study all day at the library.  He'd come home in time for dinner then head right back to the library again, only to make it home in time for his head to hit the pillow.  He watched everyone else get to go out and have fun and do "normal" things.  That didn't deter him though; Matt was the most dedicated person I've ever met.  He saw a means to the end and his goal never wavered.  All Matt's hard work that summer paid off.  Matt found out he passed the bar four months later on November 14, 2008.  He officially became a NY State attorney and proudly represented Doran and Murphy Law Firm.  

I think Matt would be really proud of me with where I'm at right now, and how far I've come since that tragic April afternoon almost two and a half years ago.  I know Matt would be proud of this website I made for him.  I know he'd be proud of all the updates I have done to the house we bought together.  I know he'd be proud of Lincoln's new tricks and how well I have him trained.  I know he'd be proud of how I pay all of my bills on my own.  I know he'd be proud of how independent and strong I am.  And I know he'd be proud of how much I love him, and how much I always will.  I'll never forget him always telling me that he was proud to love me.  What the two of us had was something so special and unconditional, and I know it doesn't come along often in life.  I'm just so grateful I had the chance to experience being in love with such a remarkable man.

I also know Matt would be proud of the Foundation we started in his name.  We first started it so that everyone would have something to pour their hearts into.  Now, two years later, we have raised over $70,000 thanks to all of your support and donations!  The 2011 MJS Golf Tournament was such a huge success and we feel so blessed to have people continue to support Matt's Foundation.  For as hard as it was to award the very first Matthew J. Schnirel memorial scholarship last year, it was also incredibly rewarding and left me knowing that all the hard work everyone puts into Matt's Foundation really makes a difference in people's lives.  

I wish more than anything that Matt was still with us here today.  I believe that in a way he is though.  All the lives that he touched in his short 26 years are forever changed, and in that sense we all carry him with us wherever we go and in whatever we do.  He lives on in all of us that knew and loved him.  Matthew John Schnirel will always have a big part of my heart.  *I love you Matt*  <3

Laur - 2011-06-16 20:36:17
On Monday, June 13, 2011 Kevin, Eric, Mike and myself planted a Weeping Willow tree in honor of Matt at the crash site in Ohio.  We found a good spot for it, and I look forward to going back and watching it grow in the years to come.  There is a very nice plaque that we placed in front of the tree.  Hopefully Matt will feel our love. <3

Laur - 2011-04-28 20:34:56
"Love is stronger than death even though it can't stop it from happening, but no matter how hard death tries, it can't separate people from love.  It can't take away our memories either.  In the end, life is stronger than death."

It seems unreal that it's been two years already.  I hate having to think of all that Matt would have accomplished in those two years we've been without him.  It hurts immensely and it's incredibly sad, but we will all pick up the pieces and keep moving forward and growing from what we've learned.  We will love Matt forever, and never ever forget him!


Laur - 2011-04-21 10:31:44
Happy birthday Matt <3

I hope you'll approve if I have a stop light for you tonight.  Don't worry...I'll keep it classy!  : )

P.S. I hope you get your balloons from us today.  All my love.  SAME FOREVER!

Laur - 2011-03-03 21:03:02

I wanted to share a blog that I’ve been following for the past few months now.  Pat Bertram’s husband died 11 months ago and she eloquently writes about her struggles trying to deal with his death.  I think she shares her story from the depth of her heart and her situation is unfortunately one that I relate to…

Pat’s blog can be found at:

 “I mentioned before that love and grief were the bookends of a relationship. Because of its intensity, the ability to change a person’s life and outlook, and the all-consuming focus on another person, grief seems to mimic falling in love, though in a bleaker, blacker, lonelier way. And like love, grief stirs up your depths, making you realize you are more than you ever thought you could be. As I’m slowly beginning to define my life solely by me, not by “us”, I’m seeing another similarity. When a couple embarks on a life together, they learn to depend on each other, to find ways to complement each other, to meld their likes and dislikes, their hopes and frustrations into a workable emotional environment for both parties. When half of a couple dies, the person left behind has to find a way to unmeld. To go from thinking about both of you, to thinking solely of yourself, to depending solely on yourself. It’s hard and painful and feels futile at times. (Because, you think, if life is worth living, he would still be here).

It’s like a teeter-totter. When one person leaves abruptly, you crash to the ground. You do learn to play by yourself, but you are always aware that the other side is empty. Gradually, you get used to it, though — or at least resigned. And that’s where I am, most of the time. Resigned.” -Pat Bertram

Approaching two years without Matt doesn’t seem possible.  How could all this time have gone by with our lives moving forward, but Matt’s stopped?  There will always be unanswered questions and what-if's, could-have-been’s, and why’s.  I know nothing can ever bring him back.  Every day it still hurts though.  I will keep trying to do the best that I can with what I am given, and with what I continue to try and accomplish.  And I hope that Matt will be there to guide me through the rest of my journey…

Laur - 2010-12-29 22:04:14

With 2010 winding down to an end I’ve had some time to reflect on the past year and all that has happened without Matt—some good times, some bad times, some hard times, and a lot of darn right painful times.  I’d have to say I’m coming out of 2010 feeling like I have grown as a person and have a lot of new insight and respect for many things.

I’ve done my fair share of crying, not sleeping, not eating, being absolutely lost without my other half, with an overall feeling like I’m on an emotional rollercoaster out of control most of the time.  But through it all I’ve discovered (and continue to discover) what pure strength and resilience I posses, how determined and passionate I can be as a business owner, how much I have learned and can do on my own as a homeowner, how much I deeply care about the important people in my life, and how helping someone by simply giving your time or your ears as a means to listen, are some of life’s greatest gifts.  It’s the little things in life that make a difference.  I know that’s a cliché, but it’s so very true.  Some of my best memories of Matt are the simple times when the two of us would take a walk with our dog Lincoln and paint a picture of our future endeavors together.  I remember us sitting together in our backyard in picnic chairs on a hot July day “lifeguarding” Lincoln in his doggie pool, just enjoying each other’s company and the sunshine on our faces.  I remember staying up late at night listening to music and pondering about the meanings of songs.  I remember Matt grabbing me in the middle of our kitchen to slow dance with him when there was no music playing and he really hated to dance, but we danced for what seemed like forever with him stepping on my toes and singing to me off key, but that didn’t make a bit of difference and I cherish those silly simple moments in our relationship.  I remember the feeling of receiving my chap sticks in the mail and how much Matt cared about me to think of a little thing like that year after year (ok maybe it was a big thing because I am obsessed with chap stick)!  I remember the joy of hearing Matt’s car pull in the driveway after a long day at work, knowing the first thing he would do when he walked in the door was find me to give me a kiss.  I’ll be walking a dog for work and all of a sudden a smile will cross my face and I’ll laugh out loud to no one, thinking of something funny Matt had said.  It happens all the time and I am grateful for every loving memory I have of him.  Though in turn they still make me cry, maybe one day I will be able to smile without all the tears. 

Matt wrote the following poem for me two years after my first boyfriend, Aaron, died in a tragic car accident at the age of 18.


By Matt Schnirel

Arbitrary sorry's have no meaning 

When unconnected pasts meet you at your door

The only way to get through it

Is to know that others care

And to know there is no vein

I only hope the meaning behind this all

Can find you, which will bring peace

But never closure

We should never close something we love

Because true love can never be replaced nor forgotten

It can only be over taken by greater love

My moral insignificant blessing

Is all I can leave

I know Matt would give this poem to me all over again if he could.  We talked a number of times about what we would want for the other person if something happened to one of us.  I’m not sure most couples have that kind of talk, but with going through what I already had, we were in a different place and had a different perspective on life.  I’m beginning to see how much he will always be a part of me in everything that I do, from simply enjoying a good Sammy A. Octoberfest to making Matt’s website and foundation come to life.

Which leads me to our incredible event we had tonight in honor of Matt.  It was the first annual award for the Matthew J. Schnirel Memorial Scholarship, which was presented to UB Law student, Melissa Overbeck.  She is a genuine, poised, and very deserving recipient of the scholarship and we were thrilled to present her with the award.  So many people have helped us get to this point and we can’t thank everyone enough.  From the golf tournament, the pool party fundraisers in Ransom Oaks, the Uno’s restaurant week last year, Matt’s birthday celebration at Slicks, the Classic’s Christmas parties, and everyone who donated in between there…we are truly honored that you all care so much about Matt and about us by helping carry on his legacy in this manner.  From the bottom of my heart I can’t thank you all enough.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Matt and how he touched my life.  I will always carry him in my heart and try to lead a life that he would be proud of.

TJ - 2010-12-29 20:10:52
Congrats on the schlorship award today Lauren. I am sure Matt is very proud of all you are doing to remember and honor him.

Barb Schilling-Studer - 2010-12-19 17:27:02
As Christmas approaches, it is still hard not to have you be here with us to celebrate.  I hope wherever you are Matt that you are at peace.  Just know that I miss you and never ever will forget you.  Love you, Barb

Meggan Rein - 2010-11-06 14:43:05
I just spent some time reading all of the passages, articles, poems, and looking at all of the pictures, what a wonderful job done on this website. RIP Matt

Laur - 2010-10-28 20:24:48

I took the following passage from the best book I’ve ever found on grief:  Transcending Loss, by Ashley Davis Prend. 

“One of the most unimaginable horrors of life:  That someone you love can be killed instantly, with zero preparation and no time for goodbyes.  The world I knew changed in a matter of minutes.  I never would have believed that every single relationship could change, the way every single person perceived me and talked to me and related to me could change.  That my view on almost everything could change in minutes.  I just would never believe it’s possible.  But that’s what happened.”

Today marks a year and a half without Matt.  548 days without my best friend and other half.  Even though the days keep marching along one after the other, my heart doesn’t ache any less.  “Time” doesn’t heal this kind of piercing wound.  I know that all too well by first losing Aaron at the age of 18 in a car accident.  There’s no way to “move on” from someone you love when you had no choice in the matter.   Your life will never be the same, but the most one can do is learn to integrate the loss into their new life.  Just because the person is gone, it doesn’t mean that your feelings or the relationship dies.  Our society is so afraid of death that it applauds people who seem to be “moving on” and doing “alright.”  They marvel at your strength and praise your resilience.  What really needs to happen is that people should educate themselves on grief.  In the words of Loretta Girzarlis, an American writer and educator, “If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things being to happen.”

I used to scrapbook all the time.  Matt always liked that I did that because then he never had to take any pictures.  He knew I would capture all our precious memories and be able to share them for years to come.  After Matt died, I made three additional scrapbooks for my collection.  One was of all Matt’s poems he wrote.  The next was of all the cards I ever gave him.  And the last was of all the cards he ever gave me.  I feel like sharing some excerpts from cards that Matt wrote me throughout the years that seem to reach out to me, especially tonight.

In the words of Matt:

“I hate being so far away when things go wrong.  But always remember I’m on your side and I’ll always be there, even when I can’t be physically.  I love you and always wish the best for you.”

“What keeps me believing that everything will be alright, is the belief that you will be right there with me.”

 “I just need you to know that I couldn’t stop thinking about you if I tried.  You’re everywhere I go and that’s exactly how I want it to be.  I love you more every day, and being away from you just proves it to me over and over.  I’ll love you forever.”

“Always know that I’m right with you no matter where you are.”

“You’re everything I could ask for in the world.  I want you to know that you will always be loved.”

I am a very lucky person to have had the true unconditional love of such an amazing man.  I hope that all of you will be able to have someone touch your life the way Matt touched mine.  He will always be a part of me.


- 2010-10-02 21:49:29
Keep up the good work Lauren, Matt is very proud of all you are doing.
I know its not easy...I wish I didnt, but I do know how hard it is to go on. Stay stong and remember how many people love and care about you. We will always remember.

Mike - 2010-09-07 21:44:15
It has been a long time since I have posted, but I have a story that must be shared.  Our senior year of high school Tino and I had a lunch or a study peroid together, I am pretty sure it was 6th peroid. Well Matt had a participation in government class with Mr. Kolojack, not sure if that's spelled right, but either way.  As most of you know the three of us, and a lot of other people, were pretty inseparable.  In Sweet Home each class room had a phone that could be used from class to class.  There was an empty room next to Matts class and one day we thought it would be funny to call his teacher and have Matt sent down to the office.  Well the teacher had no idea it was me on the phone and sent Matt to the office. Of course we stopped him before he got there and we all went and had lunch together.  That worked so well we decided to to it again the following week.  And then the following week we did it again.  Then the following week we did it twice, we were doing it so much the teacher asked matt, "You are such a nice kid in my class I can't see why you get into so much trouble and get called down to the office so much.  I hope everything is ok."  You would think that would make us stop because we were going to get caught sooner or later, well you're wrong, we continued doing it.  HAHAHAHAHAHA 

Laur - 2010-09-06 23:10:09
I hope you're able to give Jacquie Hirsch an extra special hug today Matt.  It's been two long years.  We all miss her and love her so much, just like you.

Torey - 2010-08-17 20:26:12
Lauren it was nice to see you and share time together at Erin & John's. We shared the bitter sweet of a beautiful evening, yet all the time knowing it would have been so different if Jacquie and Matt where there to celebrate the special occasion with us. Keep writing, both you and Sharon have so much to tell. Always Believing & Hoping for Tomorrow !  Love Tor1

Laur - 2010-08-07 10:20:43
Becca Schnirel, Kristin Halter, and the other lifeguards at Ransom Oaks raised $403.00 at a Pool Party Fundraiser they had for Matt this week.  

Matt used to work at Greenwood Pool in Ransom Oaks for seven summers.  It was where we met and he considered it the best summer job ever :)  He was known as the Grand Poo Pa and everyone loved him there.  Matt's memory still lives on in the community.  <3

Laur - 2010-07-19 23:40:46
A very special thank you from the Schilling's & Schnirel's for all your support at the 2010 MJS Annual Golf Tournament!  Everyone helped to raise a total of $7,580.15!!!  

It turned out to be a great day with some pretty amazing family and friends.  I know Matt watched over us proud as could be.  We are thankful for all of your support to honor his life and the foundation we set up at UB.  Matt's legacy will live on in so many ways...through the scholarships, having these events, in the way we live our lives, in the memories we share, and forever in our hearts.  We all love him so much!  xoxo

Laur - 2010-07-03 18:06:10
One of Matt's heroes was Abraham Lincoln.  That's the main reason we named our dog Lincoln.  At any rate, I was reading a book I got Matt about Abe and came across this paragraph that describes Matt perfectly:

"As Abe Lincoln entered his mid-20s, he found himself increasingly drawn to the practice of law.  The profession suited his rigorous, rationalizing intellect, his love of books and study, his keen interest in ethics and justice and his flair for argument.  It was also a good fit for his unaffected, homespun demeanor, which made him a sympathetic counselor to clients and a convincing advocate to juries."

Matt was going to be a superstar in the law field.  He had everything it took to be a success.  He proved that to all of us by the path he chose, how he went about it, and how far he got doing it.  Sometimes I was just in awe of what Matt could do.  In my eyes he was the best of the best.  I was so incredibly blessed to have him in my life.  

Laur - 2010-07-03 01:16:48
Our Lady Peace is never the same without you Matt!

"Turn on the radio
To find you on satellite
I'm waiting for the sky to fall
I'm waiting for a sign
And all we are
Is oh so far
You're falling back to me
The star that I can see
I know you're out there
Somewhere out there
You're falling out of reach
Defying gravity
I know you're out there
Somewhere out there"

Missed you tonight <3

Laur - 2010-06-18 11:08:52
I just heard this song today for the first's a powerful one.

I Will Not Say Goodbye
By Danny Gokey
(His wife, Sophia, died during heart surgery)

Sometimes your world just ends
It changes everything you've been
And all that's left to be
Is empty, broken, lonely, hoping

I'm supposed to be strong
I'm supposed to find a way to carry on
And I don't wanna feel better
And I don't wanna not remember,
I will always see your face
In the shadows of this haunted place
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say goodbye

They keep saying time will heal
But the pain just gets more real
The sun comes up each day
Finds me waiting, fading, hating, praying,

If I can keep on holding on
Maybe I can keep my heart from knowing that you're gone
And I don't wanna feel better
I don't wanna not remember
I will always see your face
In the shadows of this haunted place
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say goodbye

I will curse, I will pray, I will re-live everyday
I will show through the blame
I'll shout out your name
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say goodbye
I will not say goodbye
I will not say...

- 2010-06-15 07:49:17
Hey Laur, just wanted to say hi. Hope you have a good day today

Laur - 2010-06-12 00:48:16
Only two more days left to register for the 2010 MJS Golf Tournament on July 18th.  We're going to have a great turnout and we're really looking forward to spending the day with Matt's friends and family.  Thank you to everyone for your support!

Contact any of the Schnirel's or myself if you want to register to play golf, go on the wine tour, or just come for dinner and the awards!

You don't want to miss this event!!!

Laur - 2010-06-07 09:54:00
I thought this quote was really good and wanted to share it...
You don't get over it
You just get through it
You don't get by it
Because you can't get around it
It doesn't "get better"
It just gets different

Laur - 2010-06-03 19:34:34

Spur of the moment I went to the Dave Matthews concert at Darien Lake yesterday.  I used to be such a “daver” back in the day…ok only about 10 years ago, but that seems like a long time ago to me.  I’ve been to over 20 dave shows and I remember the first summer I met Matt he classified me as “obsessed.”  I soon learned that he was “obsessed” with Counting Crows and Third Eye Blind.  Soon that took over for me as well.  We attended so many shows together throughout the years and every single one was a good time and a great memory to have.  A DMB concert was the first concert I ever saw with Matt so it really pulls at my heart.

At any rate, last night’s forecast for the concert called for stormy weather.  Rightfully so, it started sprinkling, then raining, and then pouring a few songs into the concert.  As soon as the rain poured down on us I looked up and took it all in.  I didn’t care that we were drenched from head to toe, ringing out our sweatshirts, sandals stuck in the mud, hair plastered to our faces.  I took in the brilliant music, the enthusiastic crowd, and the good (yet overpriced) beverages J  Every experience should be one where you really live in the moment and appreciate what you’ve got.  I’m glad I was able to do that last night.  Last summer at the Virginia Beach show I cried my way through it because I wasn’t able to see it how Matt would have wanted me to.  This year I saw DMB how Matt would have wanted me to see DMB…happy, smiling, laughing, and having a good time.

Thanks Matt for showing me all that you have.  I love you always and forever! 

Laur - 2010-05-22 00:53:05

I’ve been trying to organize the office a bit, and as I was doing so I came across my old hemp making collection.  I remember when Diane Calinski taught me how to make hemp necklaces when we were lifeguarding during the summer of 2002.  After I met Matt that summer, he always commented on my “hemp making abilities,” so that was actually the first gift I ever gave him.  I intended to make him a necklace, but it ended up being too short, so he wore it around his ankle.  After that first one I made him, I think they became like the chap sticks Matt would get for me (he never asked when I needed more…they would just magically appear); and that’s what I did with the hemp.  He never took it off, so eventually the shower and pool would wear them down until the string became too frayed to stay on.  I would take note of when he needed another one, and I would get to work making it.  I always used blue beads…because blue was Matt’s favorite color for a long time.  What makes me feel good knowing I did that for Matt was that he saved every single one I made for him.  

Now, as I’m sitting here in the office holding them…all worn and beat up…I know Matt having saved them just reaffirms that these small little things we did for each other really mattered and meant a lot.  It seems hard to believe that something as small and simple as a hemp necklace could really mean that much, but I think it’s all these little things you do for others in life that seem to come together to make your life having meaning and a purpose.  At least I know that was the way Matt would always look at it. 

Maybe I will go make one more blue beaded hemp anklet for old times’ sake…  

Mark Schnirel - 2010-04-29 16:10:56
I couldn't bring myself to write on this yesterday. I was on it almost all day, playing the slideshows over and over however. So after I went home and drank a few Southern Tier IPAs, I decided I had to write something today. I miss my cousin Matt. I wish I could hang out with him at Waverly one more time. I wish we could drink a beer together and let the dogs run around on the beach. It upsets me to no end that it will never happen. But just knowing Matt and sharing the times we did have together makes me a better person every day.

The more stories Lauren posts, the more they remind me of Mandy and myself. The fun you two had together in your college years and all of the adventures you had. I'm grateful to have known Matt since I was little and we had some great adventures together at Grandma and Grandpa's house that I will always remember. The pictures on this site help remind me of those memories.

Thinking about Matt makes me stop and tell Mandy how much I love her. It makes me call all my brothers and my sister. It makes me stop by my parents house just to say hi. Even though we can't hang out again, just keeping him in my thoughts will help me lead my life in the right direction. Thanks for that Matt. I miss you and I love you.

Barbara Schilling-Studer - 2010-04-28 11:58:45 is hard wish there WASN'T a place to write a message to you about not being here and missing you which I do alot because that would mean you would still be here with us... and we would be doing all the things we had planned on.  One year ago today, our lives changed forever....Please know Matt you are in my thoughts and prayers.
Miss you <3

Tom Doran - 2010-04-28 10:48:56
Dear Lauren,
I know that today will be a difficult and long day for you. I hope that you may receive some comfort in knowing that so many people will be thinking and praying for you. We plan to visit Forest Lawn at 12:00 today and will say an extra prayer for you, Matt, and Matt's family, when we visit his Memorial. I hope to see you soon.
With warmest regards,

Kathy Reiss - 2010-04-28 09:13:37
Hi Lauren, I just want to tell you how much I am thinking of you today and send you all my love and prayers.  I miss Matt every day!  God bless and keep you in his strong arms.

Laur - 2010-04-28 00:10:57

I can’t believe I’ve been without my love for an entire year.  We just keep heading in the wrong direction from where I want to be.  The hardest part is that time doesn’t wait for anyone.  It keeps right on marching along and somehow you’re supposed to carry on when you lose the most important person in your life.  I haven’t been able to do that.  I’m still living my old life, and don’t see that ever changing.  Matt and I were supposed to be together until we were old.  26 is not old.

Last year at this time was the last night we spent together.  We enjoyed being in our new house talking about all the things we had planned for it.  It was where we were going to start our family together.  Knowing we won’t get that hurts so much.

I am so thankful that we both got up in the morning and got ready together and spent that hour and a half talking and being near one another.  We hugged and kissed goodbye like we always do, and I listened and watched as Matt pulled his car out of the driveway for the last time.  He called me multiple times during the day that Tuesday.  You never know when it will be the last time you will talk to someone.  So do what we always did…tell the people who mean the most to you that you love them every day.  I’m thankful those were our last words to each other. 

I miss my boyfriend.  And I know so many others do too.  I hope Matt will stay with all of us forever.  Please keep him in your thoughts, tell stories of him, laugh, smile, and be good to others.  It’s up to all of us to carry on his memory.  I won’t ever stop thinking about him, missing him, and loving him.

Matt—my best friend, soul mate, loving and caring boyfriend who would do anything in the world for me—I think of our saying daily and it makes me smile.  Simple things like that are the most special to me.  I love you with everything that I am and I always will.  I miss you. 

"You are the strength that keeps me walking.
You are the hope that keeps me trusting.
You are the light to my soul.
You are my're everything."

Barbara Schilling-Studer - 2010-04-21 09:16:13
Matthew, wherever you are, please know how much you are missed especially today your birthday.  There certainly is a huge void in our family not having you here to celebrate your day.  We will honor you and remember you tonight by gathering together and paying tribute to the fine young man that you were.  I pray you are at peace Matt...we all just wish you were here with us!
Miss you<3

Laur - 2010-04-21 08:28:19

April 21, 2010.  Matt is supposed to be turning 27 today.  Somewhere I know that he is, but it just won't be here with us.  It hit me that I am older than Matt now.  I am never supposed to be older than him.  He is always supposed to be one month and 22 days older than me forever.  That’s how things are supposed to be. 

I remember all the birthday’s we shared together and all the birthday’s we planned to share together in the future.  We always told each other how much we had to look forward to in spending our lives together.

I’m going to celebrate for Matt tonight, along with all his friends and family.  We will remember him, tell stories of him, and drink a beer and shot of tequila for him.  Most of all we will miss him.  His laugh, his smile, his heart. 

I love you Matt.  Happy birthday my love <3


Laur - 2010-04-03 22:43:35

Today was an unusually hot day for the beginning of April.  It was a must to be outside though.  My mom and stepdad came over to help with some projects around the house, like they often to.  When we’re doing that sort of thing, my mind always wanders to Matt.  Matt was not the most handy guy in the world, but when he did do something, he wanted it done right.  He would take the time to figure it out and would never half ass it or give up.  That goes back to Matt always giving his all in anything he did, from being a lawyer, to loving me, to doing a little project around the house.  At any rate, I think of how much Matt would have learned by now owning our own house.  All the little things we never thought about that pop up day after day.  Today the two of us would have learned how to install a cat door, figure out how to cover up a four foot hole in the house that about fifty bees lived in last year, and how to secure a fence so dogs can’t escape.  Instead, I learned those things on my own.  I wish more than anything in the world Matt and I could be learning them side by side.

We have a ladder Matt.  And a lawnmower, saw, drill, sander, and so many other things…we need a bigger tool box than the one you have!  I have learned a lot Matt, which you would be very proud of, but the pain is ever so present doing these things without you.  I miss you babe.  All my love forever and always <3

Laur - 2010-03-20 23:06:39
Matt was such an incredible all-around person.  He had the drive and determination to accomplish anything he set out to do and I loved that about him.  I watched in awe at his tireless dedication to school, studying, working, learning, and trying to get ahead in life.  Whenever things got tough for Matt he pushed through and didn’t let anything bring him down.  Matt was determined to make something of himself.  He was such an intelligent, honest, and genuine person; what you saw is what you got with Matt.  He was full of life and love, and he just wanted to be surrounded by those he cared about.  What I constantly miss is the humorous, witty side to him, where he could captivate and entertain a whole room full of people.  I know his stories and jokes will always live on in our minds and hearts to be retold over and over again.  My handsome boyfriend is truly unforgettable.  He achieved so much in 26 years and I know we are all so proud of him, and I am honored to be his girlfriend.  Matt told me and wrote to me so many times that all he wanted was for me to be safe, warm, happy, and loved.  I have to hang onto his words and know that he will always be there for me; just in a different way now.  Matt was a remarkable man and I will love him for all the rest of my days. 

- 2010-03-10 12:02:55
You're doing a great job Lauren. I know it's not easy and I know how hard it is, day after day to try to keep going on and living life when one of the most important people who should be living it with you is gone. Try to remember to smile, and think of something good, and keep moving on. The website looks great Laur, Matt is proud of you.

Mike - 2010-03-09 19:08:37
It has taken me so long to get through this whole site but what an amazing job you did Lauren.  There were pictures that brought back memories that I might not have ever thought of again, but I now have a place to recreate those momories forever.  I miss Matt every day and would love to ask him just a few questions that I am sure would make him laugh.  That is what we did, we made each other laugh.  I miss the countless situations (only situations that could happen to Matt and myself) that we got ourselves into.  One of my favorite memories which I am sure we have all heard, but I want to tell it anyways.  It was an after hours life guard meeting at Eveningwood pool where we would meet to discuss important topics involving the community or play drinking games with all the guards.  I remember Matt talking to Lauren for a long time and she offered to drive him home.  Well, the next morning I got a call from Matt pretty early.  Matt informed me that he had tossed his beans out Lauren's window on the way home and he felt bad and asked me what he should do.  He was really confused as the next step to take to mend the relationship because he really liked her and was embarrassed because he could not handle his adult beverages.  I told him to get his ass in his car and go right to her house and clean her car for her.  He listened but she had already cleaned her car.  At least they had a funny story to talk about and that led to a very passionate relationship.  Matt loved Lauren and I was glad my best friend found true love.  I will come on here as often as possible to try to tell more stories, I have been slacking real bad.

Laur - 2010-02-21 22:37:36

One year ago, this very week, was one of the happiest of our lives.  On February 22, 2009 Matt and I found the house that we both fell in love with.  And then on February 23rd we signed the contract to buy our house.  It was such an amazing happy feeling buying your very first house with the person you love most in the world.  We were so excited we could barely contain ourselves. 

Then on February 26, 2009 Matt and I drove to Rochester so he could be admitted to the NYS Bar Association.  I remember we were running late and we got a little lost when we got there.  Matt was all nervous we wouldn’t be on time, so there the two of us were, holding hands, and literally running down the streets of downtown Rochester trying to find the place.  We finally found it, and made it with time to spare.  I sat in the audience and watched my handsome boyfriend make the biggest accomplishment of his life.  As I listened to the speakers I couldn’t help but feel so overjoyed for Matt.  I was incredibly proud of him and the man he had become.  I watched him work so hard for all of these years and he did it…he lived out one of his dreams…becoming a lawyer.  I felt so much love in my heart knowing what this meant to him.  I couldn’t tell him enough how proud I was of him.  As we drove home that afternoon we talked about how things would be better now.  The stress of all the studying and worrying and wondering was in the past.  We could both move forward into our wonderful life and future together.  It’s so very hard knowing that was taken from us.  We should have been able to enjoy almost a full year in our house by now.  We should have been planning our wedding by now.  We should have had so many more wonderful experiences together.  All I know, is that I will do my best to make sure Matt’s memory stays strong within all of us.  His foundation is a way to make that happen.  It will go on long after we have all joined him once again. 

<3 My love for you still grows every day Matt.  Just like we said it always would. <3

robin singh - 2010-01-25 02:32:05
i miss u matt ... whenever i think about u my eyes are loaded with tears .... rip ...

Lisa Schnirel - 2010-01-22 14:38:45
Out of all the memories I have in Waverly Beach, this one about Matt certainly stands out in my mind. I was probably around 10 years old and Ryan took me out in the row boat. He told me to get out on the reef and so I did. Then Ryan rowed back to shore leaving me on the reef alone. I was screaming back to shore because I was afraid to be out there alone. After a few long minutes of crying and yelling, I saw Matt from the beach take the row boat and head towards the reef. My cousin rescued me from what I then thought was a horrible abandonment. Obviously it was not as dramatic as I made it out to be at the time, however it was a small testament to how caring Matt was. It is a short story, but it is one that I will never forget.

Erin Cole - 2010-01-21 17:14:23
George Clooney always makes me think of Matt... I don't know how he came up, but someone mentioned George Clooney in passing. Matt said, "Oh George Clooney, yeah he's a prankster and has a potbelly pig." I laughed and was like "I've heard that but where did that come from?" Matt said "That's all you ever hear about George Clooney... prankster and potbelly pig." Now whenever I think of George Clooney, I think of Matt and smile. It's a simple thing but so funny and so true.

mick - 2010-01-21 07:07:18
We all know the infamous kiss around the world, so I wont get into that. 
One thing people may not know is that Matt was a big reason I graduated college.  I was originally going to be looking at a bio oriented career but at the last second changed my mind.  I chose sociology as my major along with a couple minors.  I could graduate in just one semester if I completed an internship.  I thought I was screwed but Matt came to my rescue!  I did an internship with him @ Doran & Murphy.  It was the best internship of all time.  It was between my classes at 11am and 1pm.  I would go in, we would talk for about 20 minutes, do a little work and go to lunch every tues and thursday from 12-1.   Its a memory I truly cherish.  It just goes to show how great of a friend Matt was and how he would do anything for us.
We love you Matt
kiss kiss (wink wink)

Laur - 2010-01-19 21:08:22

I'm going to write a little bit about Lincoln...our three-year-old Boxer/Pit mix.  He is one of the greatest gifts that Matt ever gave to me.  Matt didn't actually get him for me (although, technically we each did buy him), but Matt helped me to see that things will happen when the time is right.  And in that sense I believe Matt got me Lincoln...he made me wait for him.  Four dogs I tried to adopt came and went.  Four dogs that I thought would be perfect for us.  Four dogs that we would have possibly loved.  I cried losing them all.  That may sound crazy, but if you know me, you'd understand.  I was ready to give up searching, but then it happened...Lincoln came to us (from Alabama nonetheless).  I don't think that that kind of love can be chosen.  It has to come to you.  Love so great isn't just happens.  Matt taught me that when it's right, when it's meant to be, it'll happen for you.  And you just have to wait for it.  As hard as it is, as much as you may struggle along the way, you have to wait.  Without Matt, I wouldn't have Lincoln, and I wouldn't have had the greatest experience of my life thus far...being in love with Matt.

And I fully believe that Lincoln has taken over Matt's role now.  Since the day Matt didn't come home Lincoln became a different dog.  He now protects me to no end and I know he would do anything for me.  I wish more people could see life through their dog's eyes.  Their never-ending love and devotion, and the pure joy and happiness they exude every single day is what life is all about.

I may post another poem that Matt wrote to the website later...but the part of his poem that gets me is:

"My dog knows

I can see it in his soul

Happiness everyday."


Matt truly loved Lincoln to no end.  One of my favorite pictures in my head is of Matt and Linc cuddled up on the couch together living in that very moment.  It's the simple things like that that make me smile.  I will continue to smile with our dog, and I will continue to tell him every single day that Matt loves him.


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The Matthew J. Schnirel Foundation
The Matthew J. Schnirel Foundation