DOWNEY – As the owner of Mambo Grill restaurant in downtown Downey, it isn’t unusual for David Llamas to hold fundraisers for grieving family members trying to raise money to cover unexpected funeral expenses. Llamas held a similar fundraiser last week, only this time the death was in his own family.
On the night of May 6, Jarek Trejo was riding his skateboard near 77th Place and Hooper Avenue in South Los Angeles when he was struck by a Ford Mustang traveling 45 to 50 miles per hour. Only 13 years old, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Llamas was Jarek’s uncle.
“He was a great student and a great son,” Llamas said.
Norma Martinez, who created a GoFundMe page to assist the family, said Jarek was “a bright fun and loving young boy [who] loved his mamita and his grandparents.”
“Jarek, although 13 years young, he was smart and full of life,” she added. “Jarek filled everyone’s heart with love and laughter. Jarek was taken from us so soon, but we all understand he is in a better place.”
Llamas said his customers donated $1,370 in seven days in support of the family, the most his restaurant has ever collected in similar fundraisers.
“The community really poured their heart out for this kid,” Llamas said. “We didn’t have the right to cry out of respect for our customers, and we didn’t tell people he was our family, but our customers saw us teary-eyed and insisted on helping.”
Avenue Press printed a color photo and sign that was wrapped around a collection jar. Donors included Downey police officers, local business owners, residents, and deputies with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Century Station, who were familiar with Jarek because he belonged to the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation.
“We had kids and teens who emptied their pockets to give, even if it was just some change,” Llamas said. “It didn’t surprise me at all. I know the people of Downey are like that.
“It felt really good in my heart to know that my customers love me. And I love them right back.”
Jarek’s funeral was held last Friday. He was the only son of his single mom.
Despite the tragedy, Llamas said the outpouring of support from the Downey community reaffirmed his optimism that most people are kind and generous.
“I can’t thank God enough,” he said. “Even in today’s society, in 2015, there are good people out there – 99.99% of people are good. There is hope.”
Published: May 21, 2015 - Volume 14 - Issue 06