“Never Give Up and Always Believe in Yourself” those are powerful words from 13-year-old Jose Montaño, diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a rare type of malignant brain cancer. Jose was a fighter; the South Bay teenager had been battling brain cancer since April 2011. The young fourth grade student underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. During his last 3 years, Jose underwent more than 30 cycles of radiation and 32 chemotherapy cycles. While enduring this serious life-threatening medical condition, Jose taught his family, friends and his supporters the true meaning of having faith, looking at the bright side of life, unselfishness, giving from the heart, not losing hope and believing in one's self.
With that mindset, he considered GIVING, an important part of his life. That’s why in 2013, he created the Jose Montaño Foundation, a non-profit group designed to continue his wish to give from the heart. Jose knew first-hand what it’s like to be a patient at Rady Children’s Hospital for days, weeks and even months at a time. As part of his visit to the Hematology-Oncology unit at Rady Children’s, Jose, at times still connected to the chemotherapy machine, pushed a red wagon, overflowing with toys and healthy snacks, down the hallway at the place all too familiar to him. He made personal deliveries to the families and children who might not otherwise had the time or money to buy a meal while they were undergoing chemotherapy for hours. Since he started his foundation, we have donated thousands of toys and snack bags and brought smiles to patients. In the beginning, in order to buy the supplies and toys needed for his foundation, Jose did all the fundraising himself.
Jose continued to show his huge heart he had for others and selfless nature which inspired many people to support his mission. When the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered to grant him any wish, he asked for a new playground for his then school, Berry Elementary.
Jose was also recognized for his contributions in the community; in December 2011, while he was a 6th grade student, NBC 7 recognized Jose as Inspirational Student of the Month, the City of San Diego declared March 13th as Jose Montaño Day and the County Supervisors declared December 3rd Jose Montaño Day in San Diego County. In 2013 he was honored by The American Red Cross San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter as Youth Hero of the Year. Previous to his passing in 2014, Jose was inducted into Southwest Middle School's Hall of Fame with the title Most Inspirational Student. On May 5th, 2014 the San Diego Padres presented his family with their first posthumous Comunidad Award.
Jose Montaño was and will always be a true inspiration for everyone who hears his story!