Column: Dwayne Johnson asked to pose with this Del Mar girl
Ever Matson, 13, will be honored with a national humanitarian award for her social work
Ever Matson was selling lollipops for charity on Ventura Boulevard while visiting a friend in L.A. with her parents when she got the surprise of her young life.
An SUV pulled over, a window rolled down and a woman passenger said, “We’d like to buy your lollipops. How much are they?”
“$12 for one and $20 for two,” the 13-year-old girl responded, explaining that the money goes to her nonprofit charity, Child Hunger Sucks, to pay for meals from Feeding America for those in need.
Then the driver piped in, asking for $300 worth of lollipops in a familiar voice. Ever peered into the SUV in shock. The driver was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. She had just gone to his new movie, “DC League of Super-Pets,” the day before.
She excitedly gave him a bunch of suckers, along with her business card that explains her mission to fight childhood hunger and motto: “These suckers save lives.”
A few minutes later the vehicle returned and stopped.
The actor, whose two children were in the back seat, told her he hadn’t paid her enough, peeled off more bills, bringing her day’s sales up to $700. “We gave him an entire backpack full of lollipops. He bought me out,” she said. But Johnson returned all but five lollipops and told her to re-sell them.
Then he did the unthinkable. He said he wanted to get a photo with her.
“He jumped right out of the car in traffic and we took a photo together,” says Ever, who posted a video of the Aug. 21 encounter on her Instagram and TikTok accounts.
Amazingly, while this may have been her biggest customer, it was not her biggest sale. Ever once peddled a single lollipop for $1,000 to real estate agent/auctioneer Simon Polito.
She has had some other famous customers, including Kim Kardashian, skateboarding entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Ever already has collected $10,000 for Feeding America and is well on her way to collecting the $100,000 she needs to buy 1 million meals.
“I chose Feeding America because it can provide 10 meals for $1,” Ever says. Her father, Brett Matson, who has a long history of working with the homeless in San Diego, helped her make that selection, impressed by Feeding America’s low 3 percent overhead and collection of excess fruit and vegetables from growers and venders.
Ever used to help him when she was 5, and her dad invited needy families to gather in the now-defunct UA cinema in Horton Plaza on Sunday mornings for free cereal and cartoons.
One of her earliest memories was bringing a birthday cake to a young homeless girl living on the street. They cut the cake on top of a trash can.
Ever began her own charity project six years ago at age 7. She since has made regular appearances with her lollipop pop-up stand at coffee shops, colleges, concerts, conventions and charity events. She even has gone door-to-door.
She often sets up her stand at the farmers market in La Jolla on Sunday mornings and at the Flower Hill shopping mall near her Del Mar home.
On Sept. 9, Ever will receive a humanitarian award from the social solutions organization Be Great! and Create Impact productions.
“It’s my first award,” Ever says. She’ll be one of several national recipients, including sports agent Leigh Steinberg, whose life inspired the 1996 “Jerry Maguire” movie, Canine Companions founder Walter Hart, Jr. and Larry Namer, creator of E! Entertainment, to mention a few.
“Children are our future, and we really love and believe in what Ever is doing,” says Bryan Gallinger, founder of Be Great! “Her spirit is so genuine. She is so enthusiastic about helping people, and it really hurts her heart to see kids who are homeless and don’t have food and supplies.”
Ever is doing more than selling lollipops. She is putting together a free lunch and learning series for disadvantaged kids. It will feature her interviews with entrepreneurs and influencers and is designed to inspire kids and give them ideas of how they become “kidpreneurs,” as her dad calls them.
She also is preparing a TED Talk on how to turn one act of kindness into a movement. Now, inspired by “The Rock,” who co-founded Seven Bucks Productions, she’s creating a Seven Bucks Challenge. She’ll give celebrities and influencers $7 to see how much they can parlay that gift into for her charity.
Ever, with the help of her dad and her mom, Davia, has been creative with her giving. For instance, she asked a street corner transient for help opening her piggy bank, then let him keep the cash. She also has shown an empty backpack to someone in need, asking if they could fill it, what would they pack?
Then she brought it back full of the desired items.
This will be the second of what Gallinger intends to make an annual awards tradition to honor humanitarians and philanthropists from across the country.
The event, at the Anaheim Marriott, coincides with the 2022 D23 Expo for Disney fans, which starts that morning.
It isn’t affiliated with the Disney event but features some former cast members of the All-New Mickey Mouse Club TV series created in the 1990s, modeled after the original ‘50s Mouseketeers.
Rhona Bennett, of pop group En Vogue, Tony Lucca, a third-place finisher on “The Voice”, singer/songwriter Chasen Hampton and Broadway actress Deedee Magno Hall, a San Diego native, are among the ‘90s Mickey Mouse Club members and Hallmark Channel actors who are part of the show.
San Diego author and motivational speaker Greg Reid is emceeing the event.
What’s next on Ever’s to-do list?
The Classical Academy eighth-grader is well on her way to meeting her goal of 1 million meals. She has secured pledges from three San Diego County business owner/philanthropists for $10,000 matches to the $10,000 she already has raised, which boosts her giving count to 400,000 meals.
What will she do after she reaches the 1 million meal mark? I asked.
“Go for 10 million” she responded. This is her life’s calling.
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