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Matt Wilson graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont just two weeks after his sister Moriah “Mo” Wilson was killed in Austin, Texas on May 11. Whatever plans he had as a new college graduate immediately fell to the wayside in the wake of his sister’s tragic death.
Instead, Wilson has been working tirelessly with his family, friends, Moriah’s friends, and many dozens of other people who want to help to establish the Moriah Wilson Foundation, an organization that he says will exist to help create equitable access to sports, recreation, and educational programs for populations that might otherwise be overlooked.
“Pretty quickly after it happened, I had a sense that when something like this happens, it’s probably a natural instinct to need and be committed to making something good come from it,” Wilson said. “You see it with a lot of tragedies — raising awareness for a specific thing that caused the tragedy or focusing on something important to that person.”
Wilson said that Moriah left behind a clear indication of what was important to her and how she planned to use her burgeoning status as a well-known athlete. These were the leads he followed when beginning to create the foundation.
“I don’t think it came naturally for her to be at the center of attention in any way,” he said. “One of the ways she was going to be able to deal with it and be more comfortable with it was to use it in a way that wasn’t all about her. To use it in a way to impact community, cycling, sports, youth, and giving back.”
One of the first dedicated fundraisers for the Moriah Wilson Foundation is a special release beer sale. Rouleur Brewing Company out of San Diego, California is now taking orders for a limited edition release of MoMentum Hazy IPA. 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the foundation.
The beer will be a New England style IPA, paying a hazy homage to the Wilson’s home state of Vermont. According to Matt, Moriah enjoyed a hazy IPA, “moderately, of course.”
As its name implies, Rouleur Brewing Company is a brewery with a cycling bent, and owner Rawley Macias has a particular affinity for gravel.
Macias said that when he heard the news about Wilson’s death in early May, he wanted to help in some way. He’d seen Wilson at California races earlier this year and was a big fan of the burgeoning star. Belgian Waffle Ride San Diego — a race Wilson won handily in late April — finishes near Rouleur’s San Diego taproom.
“Some of my friends who are regulars at the brewery were in chase vehicle of women’s race at BWR doing camera footage,” Macias told VeloNews. “They were checking in, telling me how much of a lead she had. I was awestruck by how dominant she was but also how cordial. She was easy to approach and talk to and that stuck with me.”
Macias got in touch with Matt via the GoFundMe page that the Wilson family set up to raise funds for various meaningful organizations, and the two struck up a partnership from there. Matt, an English literature major, named the beer, and Macias went about fine-tuning the details.
The brewery opened online sales of MoMentum last week. The beer will be sold in four-packs for $20 and can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. The artwork on the can is courtesy of Steve Driscoll of Pure Gravel and features an image of Mo from Sea Otter.
Due to the lead time on the cans, the beer will likely be brewed sometime in late August for shipment in early September. Macias will select the hops, perhaps the most integral ingredient in a hazy IPA, closer to the brew date.
The Moriah Wilson Foundation
The special beer release is just the first of what Matt Wilson anticipates to be many collaborations with and fundraisers for the Moriah Wilson Foundation.
While still in the nascent stages of development, Wilson said that eventually all of its activities will fall under this mission: to promote healthy living and community engagement by supporting organizations dedicated to expanding equitable access to recreation, sports, and educational programs.
In addition to the future proceeds of the MoMentum beer sale, the foundation has already raised $140,000 from the Wilson family’s initial GoFundMe campaign, and The Feed raised over $87,000 from water bottle sales that will also be donated.
Wilson said that he’s been “overwhelmed with the amount of people who want to be involved and believe in the potential of the impact we can have.” He anticipates that the foundation will first get involved with local projects in northeastern Vermont and grow from there.
“There are lot of opportunities in the Northeast Kingdom,” he said. “To build out organizations that are underfunded that support youth, youth in sports, youth in biking. From there to the larger Vermont community, then the Vermont cycling community, to eventually projects involving youth and biking across the entire country.”
As the direction of the Moriah Wilson Foundation evolves, Matt Wilson is certain about one thing — that its work will always honor the legacy that Moriah left, all too soon.
“She inspired me my whole life to believe in myself, push myself, work hard,” he said. “That if I choose to do something, I can do it. The foundation for me is about sharing the way she inspired me and our family and all of our friends and everyone she touched.”