Randy Araiza, a LAFD Firefighter with Metropolitan Fire Communications is serving up a little kindness as an honored L.A. Fire marathon team supporter. As part owner of the family-run La Cabana Restaurant in Santa Paula, California, he made a generous donation to support his LAFD colleague, Miguel Rodriguez, and his wife Irene who are running the charity relay at the 2017 Skechers Performance L.A. Marathon. Miguel & Irene are using the marathon to raise money for the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund.

Thanks to contributors like La Cabana’s, Miguel and Irene surpassed their original fundraising goal, earning more than $2,000 for the charity through a special online campaign.

Marathon team supporter

From left to right: Rick, Ronnie, Gabie (mother), Randy, and Karen

Randy’s generous community spirit began at young age. In 1959 his dad ran an automotive parts and service shop, but “he eventually realized he was a better cook than a mechanic,” Randy says. So in 1974, they opened La Cabana as a small, 13-seat restaurant to serve Mexican food to local families and travelers alike. The popular eatery grew larger and even more vibrant as a family-owned restaurant, serving the growing Santa Paula community.

Being in that environment inspired Randy to discover his own love of cooking. By age 12 he was helping out at the restaurant and honing his culinary skills. Working alongside his siblings, he realized his passion for family and community-oriented service.

Though located about 60 miles outside of Los Angeles, La Cabana Restaurant has become a beloved staple at one of the biggest annual events benefitting Widows & Orphans. In addition to supporting the efforts of our charity’s L.A. Marathon runners, the restaurant has also provided food for the annual “Hope for Firefighters” event in downtown L.A. for the past 19 years.

Now married with four children, Randy takes turns at the restaurant with his three siblings, a sister as well as two brothers that became attorneys, one of whom also serves as Santa Paula’s Fire Chief. Randy truly enjoys his time there in addition to his duties as a firefighter at Metro. “I started doing this as a volunteer and I wore a pager,” he says. “I didn’t realize it could be a career. It never felt like work!”

Aligning cooking with a passion for service, Randy and La Cabana Restaurant have whipped up enough support to provide our charity with a second helping.

La Cabana Restaurant is located at 1259 E Harvard Blvd., Santa Paula, CA 93060. For more information visit their page on Facebook.

By Madeline Wright