Family to uphold their son’s legacy

Joe Machado, center, poses for a picture with his parents Dawn and Joe, following The Villages High School Class of 2019 graduation ceremony May 25. Machado died in a single-vehicle crash Friday night.

Tayla Machado has a new life’s mission — to preserve the life and legacy of her brother. And on Tuesday, the first step was taken in making sure Joseph Machado won’t soon be forgotten. The Villages High School, in conjunction with the Buffalo Scholarship Foundation, announced the creation of the Joseph Machado Memorial Scholarship, forever honoring the Class of 2019 graduate and former starting linebacker on the football team. Machado, 18, was one of two fatalities in a single-car crash on Friday night in Lake County. “This literally means everything to me,” Tayla said. “I’ve promised everyone that my brother’s name will live on and everyone will remember him, and this is one way we’ll be able to make sure of that. He’s going to forever be able to remain here with us and we’ll be able to carry his name and his story out year after year.”

Ahead of Machado’s memorial service from 6-8 p.m. tonight at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Leesburg, donations may be made in lieu of flowers to P.O. Box 492160, Leesburg, FL, 34749. Checks should be made payable to “The Buffalo Scholarship Foundation” and include “Joseph Machado Scholarship Fund” on the memo line.

“This is something that we know Joe would want,” said Dawn Machado, Joseph’s mother, on Tuesday. “The outpouring of support we’ve received from the school and the community in just the last few days has been overwhelming. So this will be one way we can give back, by creating a scholarship in his memory for other kids to use in the future.”

Dr. Randy McDaniel, director of education for The Villages Charter School, said while the details surrounding the annual selection of a scholarship recipient haven’t yet been established, the message behind the fund remains clear.

“This is going to allow everyone to honor the memory of a young person’s life, and that’s a great thing to focus on,” McDaniel said. “We’re all just absolutely heartbroken for the family, but this will allow us and his family to honor the way he lived his life.”

With many who knew Machado touting his personality that revolved around helping others in need, VHS head football coach Richard Pettus said the memorial scholarship is an honorable way to extend his former player’s legacy even further.

“I think it’s very fitting as long as we never lose focus of sharing Joe’s story,” Pettus explained. “We’ve got to continue to let people know who he was and what he was all about. We’ve got to attach something more than just the name to it — we must remember to never forget his story to go along with it.”

The creation of the scholarship fund comes just two weeks after Machado and his older sister, Tayla, a 2017 VHS graduate, had a memorable conversation regarding his future.

“I asked him what he wanted to do with his life now that he was done with high school,” Tayla recounted. “He talked about working full-time and taking some college classes, but then he laughed and told me he was going to be a legend. He didn’t know how, but he said he was going to be remembered.

“Now with this scholarship, it’s almost like I know what he meant.”

Cody Hills is a staff writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5286, or cody.hills@thevillagesmedia.com.