Siblings collect 1 million pop tabs for brother, 4, with leukemia

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CHICAGO - You wouldn't know it watching him run around a room or dominate the foosball table, but Jacob Matthaei has had a pretty tough couple of years.

The 4-year-old goes in for treatment every month at the Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago and, when he does, the family stays at the Ronald McDonald House.

It's become their home away from home.

"As a family, it was pretty hard," Jacob's mother, Jennifer Matthaei, told WGN. "It was pretty hard on his siblings to kind of wrap their brains around it."

As Jacob underwent cancer treatments, his siblings wanted to do something in his honor.

"I wanted to do something to help, because I knew I couldn't cure cancer, because I'm not a doctor," said Jacob's older sister, Brynn. "I found out pop tabs help collect money, so I started raising them and asked my school first because a lot of the people I know, and there's a lot of people at my school."

The Ronald McDonald House takes pop can tabs to recycling plants, and the money they get back raises tens of thousands of dollars, which helps families like Jacob's.

So, Jacob's siblings decided to collect 1 million pop tabs, and they hit their goal in less than a year's time.

"790 pounds of pop tabs, so it's no small feat," said Lisa Mitchell, vice president of programs at the Ronald McDonald House. "It usually takes families years to collect that much."

Jacob is currently in remission, but he has more treatments to go.

Seeing the community come together in support has meant so much to the family.

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