FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – As a professional soccer player, Matt Reis has long been considered a hero in New England. A four-time MLS All-Star and four-time finalist for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, he holds every Revolution career goalkeeping record. In short, he’s a club legend.
But on April 15, 2013, Reis made the quantum leap from sports hero to real-life hero.
The date is significant. Patriot’s Day. The running of the 117th Boston Marathon. And by now, you know the story.
After rushing to the site of the first explosion just a short distance from where he stood, Reis found his father-in-law, John Odom, gravely injured. Using his belt and jacket as makeshift tourniquets, Reis stemmed the bleeding long enough for first responders to treat Odom and transport him to Boston Medical Center.
There’s no question whatsoever; Reis saved Odom’s life.
For his heroic actions, Reis was honored this week as the MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year. It’s the first such league-wide recognition for Reis, who has been the Revolution’s Humanitarian of the Year each of the past three seasons.
But there’s so much more to Reis’ story than saving a life. In August, Reis used his annual Charity Golf Challenge to raise more than $125,000 for the John Odom Recovery Fund. Those fundraising efforts played a part in Odom’s miraculous turnaround; after five months of rehabilitation in Boston, he has since returned home to southern California, walking on and off the plane under his own power.
Reis didn’t limit his philanthropy to his own family. Despite – or perhaps, because of – the direct impact the Boston Marathon bombings had on Reis, he felt an obligation as an athlete to aid the entire community’s healing process, which he did by offering his services every time the Revolution hosted first responders and survivors at Gillette Stadium.
“For this area and the city of Boston, everything that happened on April 15 was a real blow. It was a real devastating event,” Reis said. “Playing in this town and playing in this New England area, I think it fell on us to help everybody heal and to help everybody kind of move past it.
“For me personally, knowing what happened, having my family be directly involved and making quite a few friends with a lot of the survivors, to be able to bring them out to the games and to have them see it and see what we were doing to try to help them was magical and very special.”
Reis’ eventual return to the field was also magical. After losing the starting job to Bobby Shuttleworth for much of the season, Reis regained the number one spot for the Revolution’s late-season playoff surge. By going 7-0-4 he became the first goalkeeper in MLS history to go undefeated while playing 10 or more games in a single season. It was vintage Reis.
Sports hero. Real-life hero. Legend. Matt Reis checks all the boxes.