Blood Drive Held in Honor of Fallen Dolton Firefighter
In his brief — but nonetheless impactful — life, Lawrence Matthews Jr. had two main passions.
“He was passionate about his family and helping others,” said Rachel Matthews, Lawrence’s wife of nearly three years. “People seemed drawn to him and he was always there to lend a helping hand. His strength and endurance has become an inspiration for many.”
Dolton firefighter Lawrence Matthews Jr. died while at the scene of a fire in June. A blood drive in his memory was held on Aug. 4.
Lawrence died on June 10 of this year at the age of 35. A Dolton firefighter since 2008, Lawrence went into cardiac arrest while responding to a fire at a mobile home park in nearby Harvey, according to Rachel.
“The Harvey Fire Department needed some assistance so they called [the] Dolton [Fire Department] and Lawrence went into cardiac arrest while at the scene of the fire,” Rachel said. “He made the ultimate sacrifice while doing a job he loved.”
It only seems natural then that an event held with the purpose of helping those in need would be named after a man who made it his mission to help others. The Dolton Fire Department has renamed its upcoming blood drive with LifeSource the “In Memory of Lawrence Mathews Blood Drive.”
Rachel, who called the gesture by the Dolton Fire Department a “nice tribute” to Lawrence, plans to attend the drive, which is scheduled from noon-6 p.m. on Aug. 4 at the Dolton Fire Station, 14022 Park Ave. She hopes to bring along her children and many family and friends to celebrate Lawrence’s life and thank those who are donating.
“Hopefully we will get a great turnout,” she said. “Donating blood is an easy way to give back and help others.”
Lawrence often spent his spare time on a baseball or softball diamond or the football field coaching his children, Rachel said. Following his passing, some of those he coached with approached Rachel to see if there was anything they could do for her.
“Everybody asks what they can do to help so I encouraged them to give blood,” Rachel said. “There is always a need.”
Blood and organ donation was always important to Lawrence, his wife said. A little more than 10 years ago, the Chicago native suddenly became ill and was placed on the heart transplant list. In June of 2007 he had the transplant and soon after took a job as a security guard.
“He was tossing people out of night clubs and no one could believe he was a heart transplant recipient,” Rachel joked.
Lawrence and Rachel met in a rather unconventional way in 2009. Rachel worked at the University of Chicago Medical Center and Lawrence had a follow-up appointment for his heart transplant surgery.
“I actually checked him in as a patient,” she said. “That was how we met.”
Rachel, who had two children from a previous relationship, and Lawrence, who had one, went on to have two children together.
“He was a great friend to many, a coach, a mentor and a well-rounded family man,” she said. “He will always be our hero.”
A GoFundMe page has also been established to raise funds for Lawrence’s family.