Boy Behind Playground Wish Loses Cancer Battle

Jose Montano died Sunday just five days before what would have been the third anniversary of his diagnosis

By R. Stickney, Greg Bledsoe and Rory Devine
|  Monday, Apr 14, 2014  |  Updated 6:00 PM PDT
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Boy Behind Playground Wish Loses Cancer Battle

Jose Montano Foundation

Images of Jose Montano from the foundation Facebook page run by his family.

A San Diego boy who inspired so many when he used a “Make-a-Wish request” to build a school playground has lost his battle against cancer.

Jose Montano died Sunday just five days before what would have been the third anniversary of his diagnosis, his parents announced on his foundation’s Facebook page.

In April 2011, Jose underwent brain surgery to remove a golf-ball sized tumor from the base of his brain. He woke up from surgery with a loss of strength and coordination on his left side.

Rounds of chemotherapy followed.

When Jose was approached by Make-a-Wish, he could have made any wish he wanted come true. But he wasn't thinking about himself.

Instead, he asked the organization to build a new playground for his classmates at Berry Elementary School.

When the playground opened in March 2012, NBC 7 asked Jose why he didn’t choose something like a trip to DisneyWorld or a day with skateboarder Tony Hawk.

“I felt that they needed my wish more,” the 11-year-old told NBC 7.

The school's former principal Cynthia Smith-Ough commended him on the act of kindness. His parents said they hoped Jose’s choice would inspire more families to help others instead of thinking of themselves.

On Sunday, Jose’s father posted this on the FB page for the Jose Montano Foundation:

“Five days before his third year anniversary of being diagnosed, Jose, my hero, my baby, my teacher was called to heaven yesterday. I know he is now playing in God's playground and being our guardian angel. Thank you Choncho for blessing my family and for teaching us life's most important lessons. We will remember you every single day for the rest of our lives. Te amo mi niño chulo.”

Jose was named as NBC 7's Inspirational Student in December 2011.

He also received the American Red Cross Youth Hero Award and was honored by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors with a Jose Montano Day in December 2013.

His foundation supplies healthy snacks and toys for children battling cancer in local hospitals.

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