Matthew Rivera, 4, is positioned on the floor by his grandmother, Mary Frigon, in the living room of her Haverhill home. Matthew recently learned how to sit with his legs crossed. Matthew has cerebral palsy and is in need of equipment, such as a wheelchair or stroller.

HAVERHILL — It is unlikely that Matthew Rivera had any idea about the good deed a friend of the family tried to do for him.

After all, Matthew is only 4 years old and struggles to communicate because of cerebral palsy — a neurological disorder. He was unaware that local restaurant proprietor Lucio Gomez was scouring the city in hopes of finding him a fitted wheelchair to be used when he goes to therapy, or a stroller for when he is taken on walks.

Gomez, 44, owns Morning Glory restaurant on White Street — which he is struggling to keep open. He’d met Matthew and his grandmother Mary Frigon at church awhile ago and often thought about how he could help the young boy.

Recently, Gomez, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and former U.S. Marine, took a wheelchair from in front of a house in Haverhill. He thought it had been tossed out as trash. It was the same house where Gomez had taken trashed items before to give to others in need.

When he realized his mistake, he returned the chair to its owner — 7-year-old Elijah Morales of Haverhill. Since then Gomez has been looking to find a replacement for the one he hoped to give to Matthew.

“There is a lot of charity in Haverhill, but it doesn’t always go to the right place,” Gomez said. “This is all about people helping people. You can’t save the world, but you can save people one at a time.”

Gomez was surprised on Saturday when a Haverhill parent with a child with a disability came knocking on his restaurant door.

“She said she and her son wanted to meet Matthew and give him a stroller they don’t use anymore,” Gomez said. “I wondered what kind of stroller it was, so I went to her house to pick it up and I could not believe how beautiful it was.”

“This is a stroller built for a disabled child, and it will fit Matthew for at least the next few years,” Frigon said. “I’m still in a state of shock. It’s like winning the lottery.”

Matthew, the son of John Rivera and Susanne Davis of Haverhill, spends several days a week, as well as many weekends, visiting with his grandmother.

He has some equipment at his mother’s apartment, but Davis said she’s on a waiting list for other pieces of equipment such as a wheelchair, walker and stroller.

Frigon said he gets by at her apartment with used equipment that Matthew has outgrown.

“Mass Health provides me with some equipment, and I’m waiting for more,” Davis said.

Matthew’s grandmother was hoping for at least a suitable stroller to take Matthew on walks and visits to the public library, where he enjoys tossing pennies into the fountain. He also enjoys being taken for a stroll along the Merrimack River near the Water Street fire station.

“He loves to see the firetrucks,” Frigon said. “The doctors said he’d never walk, but recently he’s been trying to walk. He says he wants to walk and he’s getting therapy every week. He could use a walker so he can continue his therapy here and at home.”

When Frigon heard that Gomez was trying to find her grandson a wheelchair and stroller, it nearly brought tears to her eyes.

“It’s crazy the way he helps anyone under the sun,” she said. “He finds things for people that have been tossed away. And he even feeds people who are down on their luck. His heart is as big as the all outdoors.”

Matthew loves playing children’s games on a computer; unfortunately, the one his father got for him doesn’t work any more, Frigon said.

“His father taught him to play computer games, and he loved it,” she said. “Then his computer crashed, and we can’t afford to have it fixed. Plus, the screen was too small for him to properly see as he has poor vision.”

Frigon said her grandson brings joy to everyone who meets him, and that he’s been promised many things in the past, including trips to the beach.

“If you met him, you’d fall in love with him,” she said. “People promise him things, but they never follow through.”

Matthew isn’t the only person Gomez has tried to help. When he stumbled upon a practically new mattress that had been discarded, he loaded it into his vehicle and dropped it off at an apartment where one of his customers lived.

“He’d been sleeping on the floor,” Gomez said. “All my life I’ve been helping people in need. When I was a kid I used to take my dad’s clothes out of his closet and I’d give it to men who needed it more.”

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