uot;I am just passionate about children and playing sports, team sports specifically,” he said.
He’s athletic director at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Edmond, where his son attends, and an assistant softball coach at Bishop McGuinness, where his daughter goes to school.
If he ever doubted that he impressed those children, it was erased soon after his surgery. His son had shaved his head in support of his father’s bald head, a result of the surgery. All the boys Matt had coached since kindergarten shaved their heads, along with some men in his family, and friends. Even the deacon at their church shaved his head.
"To look around that school and see all these dads, brothers and friends and students with their bald heads, how can you put that into words? I’ll never be able to truly find words to describe what that was like,” he said. "It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.”
Their daughter’s friends also showed their support by designing and selling T-shirts and rubber "MATTers” bracelets.
"Talk about people of character. You talk about community. ... Kelly and I are supposed to be an inspirational couple; they inspired us,” Matt said.
"That’s how we can say this is the best time of our life right now, because we are constantly surrounded by people who care,” Kelly said.
Kelly and Matt care, too. They mentor engaged couples at their church. Giving back to the community always has been a part of who they are.
"It’s like Christmas,” he said. "There’s just nothing better than giving someone a present they enjoy. That’s the feeling of service, whether you’re mentoring a couple or whether you’re just helping that kid make a free throw he’s never made before. You go home, and you feel so good inside.
"People think, ‘Wow, look at Matt and Kelly doing it again.’ But at the same time, it’s really kind of a selfish thing, because we feel so good doing it.”
While Matt’s diagnosis has added a layer of stress and uncertainty to their lives, he continues to choose a good attitude, and he encourages others to do the same. "I try not to be the cheesy, Pollyanna guy, but I do try to convey, ‘Hey, you know what? Happy Tuesday. The sun’s out. Let’s have fun today.’ You can choose your attitude, so choose a good one.”
Throughout their marriage, they’ve been each other’s cheerleader and soother. They’re nice and respectful to each other. Even when they disagree, they don’t scream.
"In almost 19 years of marriage, I don’t think we’ve ever raised our voices at each other,” Matt said.
"Not that we haven’t gotten irritated,” Kelly said.
He added, "I’m pretty sure I irritate the heck out of her all the time, but she’s never raised her voice at me.”
When they mentor couples, one of the topics of discussion is how to discuss and disagree without getting off track, name-calling or screaming or trying to be the winner.
"You would be hard to find someone more competitive than me,” he said. "I play to win. However, with your partner, we’re on the same team.”
They also stress the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people. You may not be able to choose the people you work with, but you can choose your friends, the ones you sit with at ballgames or socialize with. That’s a choice, too. It strengthens your marriage, she said. If you’re around negative people, it pulls you into that negativity.
"If you hang out with people who like their spouses ...” Kelly said.
"... then suddenly you like yours,” Matt added, finishing her sentence.
Not only do the Allens love deeply and share a strong faith, they really like each other.
And he’s just as nice as he was when she met him.