Matthew Jacob Rodriguez’s mother, Portia Vidrine said she could feel her son in the room of people who gathered at I Don’t Know Bar on East Hopkin’s St. She saw him every laugh, hug and story shared by the dozens of people who showed up Saturday to help raise money for her son’s funeral costs.
"I feel like I'm still in a dream actually…but with the love of family and my faith we are all leaning on each other," Vidrine said.
Rodriguez’s best friend Bryan Flores was devastated his childhood friend, teammate and bother was taken so quickly.
"To lose a friend in that kind of way it was so surreal you don't want to believe it is especially good hearted people,” Flores said. “It just cuts real deep."
Those who knew Rodriguez describe him as a teddy bear known for his size and his hugs.
Rodriguez used to be a doorman at I Don’t Know Bar his co-worker Marcie Martinez help organize the benefit plate sale Saturday. She said in her time of need the bar raised money for her too. She considered Rodriguez family.
"He was a really big guy, he had a really big heart and he was really, really funny," Martinez said.
Rodriguez was also known for his cooking and his love of football. He leaves behind five siblings. Vidrine said she plans to keep her son’s memory alive by continuing to tell his stories.
"That's going to keep him living how we're going to get by with so much love and so much outpour of support from this whole town and in my heart and in my faith tells me justice will be served," Vidrine said.
The benefit plate sale raised more than $5,000 in donations and sales.