WESTBURY NY:  For those who tuned into the first episode of Elko Tron Presents…Kermit and Friends Year in Review, it was like taking a trip in a time machine to a more innocent place populated by once-familiar faces we see no more.  Vashier, Karon, and Ms. Kitty the Pig Lady were among the former guests who appeared in the compilation, as was a diligent young man from Long Island named Ian Matuszak.

Ian was a popular character on the early episodes of Kermit and Friends, one of the very few early cast members who was spared most of the ridicule from the chat room that the others received.  He has lived with cerebral palsy throughout his life, which affects his motor coordination, but he has never let this affliction get in his way.  He is one of the very few Kermit guests to have done well in school, he has managed to pursue the physically demanding sports of wrestling and jujitsu as sidelines, and he always was quick with a smile and a laugh. Ian eventually departed the show along with his mother, part-time guest Kerri, in protest over controversy engendered by an ill-chosen Ryan Lever remark, but fans of the early Kermit episodes have kept abreast of his ups and downs since then.

Ian Matuszak ringside with defending UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, earlier this month.
Ian Matuszak ringside with defending UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, earlier this month.

DNN has learned of two developments regarding Ian which, after some internal debate, it feels the Kermit community should know about.  The charismatic blogger and MMA grappler earned his blue belt in jujitsu, awarded in a ceremony in October attended by over 200 attendees.  In December, Ian was special ringside guest of then-defending UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, where he offered the fighter words of encouragement. Weidman said Ian’s story of triumph over adversity has inspired him in his own life.  This is often the reaction among people who have met or seen Ian; they draw inspiration from the good-natured young man who has overcome so much and achieved more than many other 20-year-olds in life so far.

However, in more alarming news, DNN has also learned that the indefatigable Ian has been quietly facing a far bigger challenge than the most menacing wrestler he’s ever met in a ring. This autumn, Ian was diagnosed with Stage 3 esophageal cancer; an illness that often carries with it a grim prognosis.  As testament to Ian’s enduring popularity, and the goodwill he engenders among his friends and teammates, a gofundme set up in Ian’s name by his team to help with medical costs exceeded its fundraising goal by over 60%.

While Ian is no longer part of the Kermit universe, we know he has friends here who wish him only the best.  Ian is a fighter, and a young man with goals and ambitions in life.  If anyone stands a good chance of overcoming his newest health challenge, it is Ian.  For those who enjoyed his infectious laughter and charming charisma, please keep Ian in your hearts this holiday season.  DNN offers its highest regards to Ian, and thanks him for inviting us into his world for a few months last Spring.  We hope he and his family are doing well, and that more triumphs await this remarkable young man from Long Island.