SEMINOLE — This city’s council refused to sponsor a fishing trophy to honor one of four students killed last month in a horrific traffic crash, but the teen will be remembered, thanks to one council member.
Bob Matthews agreed to pay $454.75 for a perpetual trophy remembering Nate Richardson. His business, Seminole Garden Florist, will be permanently listed as the sponsor of the trophy.
Matthews said Tuesday that he had delivered flowers to the families of all the boys who died, Nate, Joey Ruzecki, Keith MacCollom and LeShawn Smith. All except LeShawn lived in unincorporated Seminole and attended Seminole High School. LeShawn lived in Largo and went to Largo High School.
“I got to see the loss firsthand,” Matthews said. “I can relate to family loss.”
The opportunity to do something good for the boys’ memory and for kids who will compete for the trophy was something Matthews said he did not want to pass up.
“It’s a privilege,” he said. “It just reinforces my commitment to my community.”
The four boys were killed April 10 after the car in which they were riding hit another car, then a tree and burst into flames. A fifth teen, Corey LePore, survived. His mother, Kim Brown, sent the St. Petersburg Times an e-mail this week saying she and her son are going to create a memorial fund for Corey’s friends.
Members of the West Coast Anglers approached the City Council last week asking the city to sponsor a perpetual trophy to be given to the winner of the 16-and-under division of the club’s annual Tarpon Roundup. Nate and the others had fished with the club, and Nate was a member.
But the council as a whole was chilly to the idea. Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds said he had spoken with each member. There was not enough support on the council to sponsor the trophy.
Matthews said he would do it.
“It’s a miracle,” said Paul Nelson, the sponsorship chairman of the West Coast Anglers. “He is a wonderful guy.”
Nelson said a story in the Times prompted others to call and offer to help sponsor the trophy, but Matthews had already come to the rescue. The 10-week tournament began last weekend. The Nate Richardson Perpetual Trophy will be awarded around the first of August, Matthews said.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at (727) 893-8450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.