Matt Hoover: Overcomes odds

Amber Armstrong

Amber Armstrong

Every day, a young man wakes up, thankful to be alive.

No one would have thought that Matt Hoover would be so healthy and happy, ready to make a difference in people’s lives. Twenty-three years ago in St. Louis, Mo., he was born three months premature, weighing only a pound and a half. Hoover was so small that he had to be dressed in Cabbage Patch clothes because he wasn’t big enough to wear normal-sized baby clothes.

His parents were told that their son had a 50 percent chance of living, and throughout the first few hours of his life, he was pronounced dead three times, once for about an hour and a half. They were also told that even if he did survive being born so premature, the odds were against him. Doctors predicted that Hoover had a 96 percent chance of being mentally handicapped.

Once, while hospitalized under 24-hour surveillance, the nurse accidentally gave Hoover too much oxygen, causing many problems for the young child. To save his life, the blood was squeezed from his feet. Even to this day, Hoover has no feeling in his feet. But he doesn’t mind because he can wear his favorite shoes all-year-round – sandals.

Because Hoover was born so premature, his lungs were not fully developed, making it hard for him to breathe. Doctors had no choice but to cut a hole into the baby’s trachea. The emergency procedure left scar tissue in the delicate area. The procedure created Hoover’s trademark today, his husky voice.

“The only thing wrong with me is my voice, and that’s not wrong, it’s me. It makes me unique,” he says.

Hoover had to work with a speech pathologist until fifth grade, learning how to talk normally. While growing up, fellow students would often ask him about his voice. He frequently got asked if he was fighting a cold. Kids would tease him, saying that he had two belly buttons because of the small hole in his throat.

Beating all odds, he did survive and is completely healthy today. Hoover says he could not have done it without his family and faith. He remains close to his family and attends church services every week.

“I owe the Lord everything. Without him and the support of my parents, I wouldn’t be here. Now, I want to make a difference in people’s lives,” Hoover says.

He is doing just that by working as a volunteer for Special Olympics with the track and field competition. He has been giving his time for the past eight years, and says he loves doing it.

One moment from the Special Olympics has burned a memory in Hoover’s heart, proving he is making a difference. Several years back a lady approached him during an event with thanks, saying he was the only person that could make her underprivileged son talk or laugh. Hoover says that was an emotional moment for him because 23 years ago, he could have ended up the same way.

Currently, Hoover plans to graduate with a journalism degree this April, and will return next year to begin work on a master’s degree in mass communications and journalism. Hoover is employed with the athletic department on campus and enjoys his job. He works in the Sport’s Information Department writing sports releases, media guides and statistics. He hopes to become a sports information director one day, preferably in the Midwest so he can be close to his family. He has high hopes and aspirations and is willing to work hard to achieve them. Hoover says he strives for perfection and feels content only when he feels he has accomplished something.

Hoover’s hobbies include hanging out with friends, all kinds of sports, spending time with family and watching college football.

Just 23 years ago, a family anxiously waited to hear whether or not their young child would survive. Well he did, and is as happy and healthy as can be today. No one knows what the future will bring, but for Hoover, the future looks promising.

#1.885254:108790577.jpg:hoover.jpg:Matt Hoover works for the Sports Information Department at SDSU. Above Hoover assists the NDSU Girls Basketball coach.: