By Judd Spicer
Matt acConnell is a 10.
No that’s not the handicap of The Madison Club’s director of golf, but rather the size of his brood. In addition to overseeing golf operations at one of SoCal’s most celebrated clubs, Matt and Wife Gina are parents to 10 children.
Breaking down the scorecard: The MacConnells adopted three foster kids while living in Texas, had three biological children since moving to La Quinta in 2006, and have since adopted four boys from Ethiopia, the most recent of which was finalized this summer past.
Without pause, Matt MacConnell goes tee-to-green with the family flock.
“Gabi, Dani, Connor, Jace, Mia, Stella, Lyla, Azarias, Biruk, Melaku,” he lists the children in oldest-to-youngest sequence, ranging from ages 16 to 3 years old.
The proponents of child advocacy extend their efforts from their Coachella Valley home to an international arena, taking annual service trips abroad to get closer to their cause.
“Matt and I, our hearts are just cracked open to these kids; both in the foster system and worldwide,” Gina says. “That’s our driving force – we love kids and we love mentoring.”
To assist in their efforts, the couple started a non-profit, Show Up for Kids (showupforkids.org), in 2012.
“Every kid needs just one person to show up for them,” Matt says.
Through the foundation, the MacConnells have a purview of global outreach efforts in child advocacy and sustainability programs, including the building of small schools and orphanages. Regionally, the foundation’s annual Christmas event (an effort championed by Madison Club members) provides a holiday for upwards of 70 low-income area families.
In recognition for their efforts, the modest MacConnells were recent recipients of the Angels in Adoption honor bestowed in Washington, D.C., by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. The award acknowledges “individuals, families or organizations across the nation who provide permanent, loving homes to children in need.”
For the father of 10, balancing the logistics of the active family clubhouse has provided a valued mirror for work life.
“What I’ve always heard is that “everybody needs to have the same set of rules.” But what we’ve found out quickly is that’s not the case; every kid has a different personality and how I deal with one child will be significantly different than how I deal with another,” Matt says. “Carrying that over, I think that’s helped me a lot in the business world, to relate to people, especially at a place like The Madison Club where we’re fortunate to have a variety of personalities and a variety of people who have been successful, and just being able to embrace and deal with people on different levels.”
Such embrace is well-evident within the family circle.
“He’s super-chill and a great dad,” Gina prides. “He’s busy at his job, but he’s veery present and very hands-on. He’s not a typical dad; this wouldn’t work if he were typical.