Foundation honoring VHS football standout killed in crash to provide scholarships

A foundation has been created to preserve the life and legacy of a standout Villages High School football player who was killed in a car crash just six days after his graduation ceremony.

Joseph Machado, 18, was a standout defensive player for The Villages High School football team. He was killed May 31 in a crash on County Road 48 in Lake County along with another 18-year-old, Phillip Leslie.

Joseph Anthony Machado, 18, was killed May 31 when the 1998 Toyota Camry he was riding in slammed into a tree on County Road 48. The driver of the vehicle, 18-year-old driver Phillip Leslie, also was killed in the crash.

Machado, who was known for his fun-loving attitude, played football all four years he attended VHS.

“Joe had a diverse circle of friends and did not judge a person based on race, ethnicity or disability,” his mother, Dawn, said in explaining her decision to set up the Joseph Anthony Machado Foundation to honor her son.

The foundation will give back to VHS annually by providing $1,000 scholarships to two seniors. One will be for a football player who has participated in the sport for all four years of high school. And the other will be open to any graduating senior with criteria that will include demonstration of cultural responsiveness and diversity.

Joseph Machado, who was killed in a single-vehicle crash on County Road 48 in Lake County on May 31, was a standout linebacker for The Villages High School football team. He’s shown above with his teammates at a football camp at Camp Blanding, and with another player and a date for a formal dance.

“In addition to these scholarships, the foundation plans to assist underprivileged children/students in the nearby counties to ensure all students have the tools to succeed in the classroom and in sports programs,” Dawn Machado said, adding that her vision is to eventually open a recreational center that would provide a place for children and teens to go after school and into the evenings.

“The goal would be to create a safe, positive environment that would keep young students active and out of trouble, as well as help with homework through volunteer tutors,” she said.

Dawn Machado added that Culver’s restaurant on Wedgewood Lane has committed to support the foundation by having “Share Days” on the Friday’s when VHS plays home football games. She said a portion of the proceeds collected from 3-6 p.m. at the eatery will go to the foundation, beginning with the game on Sept. 6.