6-year-old boy organizes backpack giveaway to honor slain police officer
DOWNEY – Six-year-old Aaron Lomas, of Downey, organized a backpack giveaway and an opportunity to meet MMA champions in honor of recently slain LAPD officer Juan Diaz.
Five-hundred children received free backpacks Aug. 10. The event took place at The Yard Muay Thai, a gym just a short walk from the Lincoln Heights taco stand where Diaz was fatally shot on July 27.
“I was very sad that a policeman was killed,” said Aaron, who trains at the gym. “I thought helping the children in the community would be something positive that would help people feel better.”
Muay Thai, mixed martial arts and jiu-jitsu champions who train at The Yard and 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu Headquarters distributed the backpacks and also took photographs with children.
Fighters from both gyms have worked with Aaron, including 10th Planet fight team manager Robert Rodriguez, a first-degree jiu-jitsu blackbelt and three-time All-American wrestler.
Rodriguez, who served as spokesman for the event, said he believes Aaron’s martial arts training may have encouraged his social activism. Aaron has trained in wrestling, jiu-jitsu and currently studies Muay Thai.
“Wrestlers are problem solvers, we see a problem, and we are driven to fix it,” said Rodriguez. “Aaron is a standout wrestler and he saw a community in mourning. He doesn’t care about his age or how big he is, he has a big heart and wants to help.”
According to Aaron’s father, Alfred Lomas, Diaz’ death hits particularly close to home. Aaron trains at The Yard, a gym that is a short distance from the spot where Diaz was shot by gang members.
Aaron noticed the candlelight vigil mourners created for Diaz while walking to the gym and asked his father about it.
“I explained what happened, and I tried to explain why, but it is all sad because it does not really make sense,” said Alfred Lomas. “In light of such a tragedy, we know the memorial for officer Diaz will have a positive impact on the community because of the heart and courage from a 6-year-old boy can bring together world champions and our community.”