Deighton Memorial Event Happens This Saturday – Kiowa County Signal

By Jennifer Stultz Editor

Friends and family of Matthew Deighton, 54, who died more than a month ago in Greensburg, are expecting more than 200 guests to attend a special celebration of life service for the Stars of Hope founder this Saturday.

“Matt was just one of the people who always helped others,” said Laura Stoltenberg, friend and event organizer. “We both grew up here in Greensburg, but he was older than me, we didn’t really meet until after the Greensburg tornado, and then he was there helping my family trying to put our lives back together, and he did it for so long. Many people.”

Along with many other efforts to help others who have suffered disasters, Deighton has written and published books about the experience of the May 2007 tornado in Greensburg. He drove the Stars of Hope bus all over the United States, giving hope to others and carrying out the National 9/11 Flag Project which is part of a permanent collection at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Stoltenberg said Deighton’s friends and family will come to The Big Red Barn in Greensburg from California, Los Angeles, New York as well as many local Kansas communities on Saturday, April 23 to honor the memory and good works of a man who lived his life to care about others.

“When we were going on a rebuilding trip, there were those of us working hard, and then there was Matt, talking with those who had been through the disaster, helping those who were really hurting,” Stoltenberg said. “He was always thinking so far ahead of everyone; he became a close friend to so many people.

Jeff Parness, founder, board member, executive director emeritus of the New York Says Thank You Foundation, which was closely associated with Deighton’s Stars of Hope bus tour, said the Matta-Palooza event would be broadcast live on a Facebook site of the same name on Saturday for all those who could not come in person.

The official community celebration begins at 2 p.m. in the Big Red Barn at the Kiowa County Fairgrounds, another project made possible by Deighton after the Greensburg tornado. Following a photo montage of Deighton’s work and life, a Stars of Hope painting event will be held in his honor.

Parness said Deighton’s life boiled down to one basic question he was known to ask often, and that was, “Hello neighbour, how can I help you?” Saturday’s event will revolve around this theme.

For those attending in person, The Big Red Barn is located at 720 N. Bay Street in Greensburg.

Joseph K. Bennett