Meet Fresh Air Alum: Matthew Diaz
Matthew Diaz from the Bronx was nine-years-old when he first visited the Weir family from Ramsey, New Jersey in 2010 through The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Towns Program. For the next seven summers, Matthew had many adventures with the Weirs and created lifelong memories.
Now 21 years old, Matthew reflects on how impactful his Fresh Air Fund experience was and how it shaped his future decisions.
Matthew thanks the Weirs for inspiring and motivating him to attend college. This year, Matthew will be graduating from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania while his host brother, Matty, attends Fordham University. “They made it very clear that not going to college was not an option,” Matthew said.
Matthew experienced many “firsts” with host brothers, Matthew and Patrick, during his visits such as climbing a tree for the first time, riding a bike and even creating a successful business – the famous lemonade stand!
Not long after his first summer visit, Matthew began to visit the Weirs during the school year, including holidays. Matthew recalls going trick-or-treating during Halloween and spending spring break with his host brothers. The Weirs’ guest bedroom was transformed into “Diaz’s room.”
Today, over 13 years after his first Fresh Air summer, Matthew continues to carry out lessons he learned during his Friendly Towns summers. Recently Matthew shared his life-changing Fresh Air experience at The Fund’s Annual Friendly Towns Conference.
Matthew remembers so many special moments but the most memorable are simple, like playing sports with his host brothers. Sports have been a big part of Matthew’s life and Matthew created an organization, Fair Play Coalition, that advocated for sports for black and Latino youth.
“Through this work, I received an ESPN Inaugural Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award for using the power of sports to make a positive impact on society,” Matthew said.
Matthew shared during his speech for the Friendly Towns Conference: “My Fresh Air experiences opened my world – I became a risk taker, I felt brave and comfortable in different environments and with all types of people. My Fresh Air family was an inspiration and they embraced me as a member of their family.”
Learn more about The Friendly Towns Program and how to volunteer as a host family!