He was so interested in science that he even taught his teachers a thing to two about space that they did not know, said his mother.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 12, 2022. It has since been updated.
An 11-year-old boy who passed away earlier in 2022, had his lifelong wish fulfilled as his family planned to send his ashes to the moon. Matthew Gallagher dreamed of becoming an astronaut and was fascinated by space. After his untimely death, his family is sending his ashes to the moon through Celestis Memorial Spaceflights. "He was a go-getter kid. He had an outstanding personality – one that anybody could get along with," said his mom, Cori Gallagher, reported KSTU. The family from Lakeland, Florida, described him as a loving son and caring big brother to his 8-year-old sister, Savannah. His parents Scott and Cori say their son wanted to be an astronaut since he was about 5. It was his life's mission, they said.
"His whole room is space-themed. A lot of things that he would get there he would ask for his birthdays or Christmas. He'd taught his teachers, even his science teachers, things about space that they did not know," said Cori. Matthew Gallagher was way ahead of his peers in terms of learning about the skies and all their wonders. He was an astronomy whiz and lunar expert even at that young age. His parents say he always wanted to learn more about space and could tell you everything about the moon's different phases and even point out each of the constellations.
He passed away unexpectedly in May 2022. His family wanted something special to honor him and they wanted it to be a tribute to his love for space. That's when they heard about Celestis Memorial Spaceflights, a group that helps families commemorate the lives of their departed loved ones by sending their ashes to space. Celestis has conducted 17 missions since 1997 to honor the memory of loved ones as per their website. "We'd always say, ‘I love you to the moon and back.’ And so we chose the lunar flight. So that way, every time anybody who knew Matthew contributed, wanted to contribute... looks at the moon, would know that he's up there. And they were a big part of making Matthew's final mission and his one dream that he had come true," said Gallagher.
Cori recalls one particular incident to capture the essence of what her son was as a person. He saw a boy who had no friends and had dropped a lot of stuff on the floor. He stopped and picked up each item and asked him, "Do you want to be my friend?" Cori says he always brought joy to those around him. "He was also that friend that would be friends with anybody. No matter who you are, what type of person you were, if you had special needs, or what age you were, it didn't matter to him," said Cori.
A GoFundMe campaign was started to send "Matthew to the moon" and has raised over $16,000. "He exuded the true essence and epitome of a boy. He attracted others to him with his zestful and playful approach to life. His sweet nature and kind-hearted soul were evident as he consistently cared for and loved others," read the description. "Matthew was happiest when wearing his superhero costumes, wearing his Heelys, playing video games with his sister and friends, working on projects with his dad, and cuddling his mom. Matthew loved anime, outer space, dirt-biking, hockey, baseball, Spider-Man, and playing outside," the note read.
His cremated remains are set to be buried on the lunar surface when the Destiny Flight takes off in 2023. "I just know that he would have a grin from ear to ear, and it would never go away because he would get to do something that he always wanted to do," said Gallagher.