By Alex Dominguez
DOWNEY – 11-year-old Matthew Trejo stands outside Rio San Gabriel elementary most days after school, armed with a small cart, some bubble gum, and a sign emblazoned with the words “Bubbles for Breast Cancer.”
His mission is simple: raising money for breast cancer research, 25 cents per piece of Dubble Bubble at a time.
Matthew’s inspiration comes from his aunt, Michele Frantz, who is a breast cancer survivor.
Frantz was diagnosed in June 2013.
“It really, truly caught our family off guard; there’s no history of breast cancer in our family,” said Frantz. “When I was diagnosed it really, truly for every member of our family – from my parents, to my brother and sister and their spouses, to the nieces and nephews – it just really felt kind of like the floor dropped out from underneath us…none of us were really prepared for that.”
“It was hard to go through,” said Matthew. “Some days we didn’t know if she’d live or die.”
Frantz is now cancer free, however her nephew has still taken initiative to take the fight to the often deadly disease.
At first, he wanted to dye his hair pink for breast cancer awareness month.
“I told him that was really drawing attention to himself, and not really helping people with breast cancer,” said Martin Trejo, his father. “If he really wanted to help people with breast cancer, he should figure out a way to raise money.”
The future “Bubble Gum Kid” chose bubble gum due to its bright pink color.
“I like the color of it…like the breast cancer awareness color and breast cancer awareness logo,” said Matthew. “I thought that would fit in.”
His first effort during Breast Cancer Awareness month raised around $200. Now back at it again, he hopes to possibly double that amount.
Matthew has received national attention ever since local media outlets picked up and ran his story. So much attention, in fact, that he was recently contacted by Dubble Bubble, who offered to provide him with free tubs of gum to sell.
He’s also been invited to a breast cancer awareness event held last weekend.
Matthew attended the Susan G Komen Race for a Cure event on Saturday, where he sold even more bubblegum.
“We’re going to sell bubble gum – and hopefully sell out,” Matthew said before the race. “And raise a lot of money.”