STATEMENT FROM FAMILY OF BEN WATKINS
November 16, 2020
Our Ben went home to be with his mother this afternoon after a year-and-a-half-long battle with Cancer. After losing both of his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben’s strength, courage and love for life. He never, ever complained. Ben was and will always be the strongest person we know. When Ben’s rare illness was shared with the world, he was so heartened by the outpouring of love he received from every corner of the globe--especially here in his hometown of Gary, Indiana. We cannot thank this community enough for holding our family up in prayer and for all that you’ve done. Ben suffered more than his share in his fourteen years on this Earth but we take solace in that his suffering is finally over and in that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many. #Love4Ben
Donna Edwards and Anthony Edwards, Maternal Grandmother and Uncle
Ben, who just turned 14, appeared on the sixth season of the hit culinary competition series MASTERCHEF JUNIOR on FOX. Ben was only 11 on the show and was part of the top 24 who competed for the title of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR. He placed in the Top 18 and was a Fan Favorite. You can watch his entire season on Hulu.
Ben is an aspiring chef and opened Big Ben's Bodacious BBQ and Delicatessen in the Miller Community of Gary, Indiana with his late parents, Leila Edwards and Mike Watkins.
Shortly after his 13th birthday, Ben was diagnosed with a rare illness called Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma, a soft tissue tumor usually in children and young adults. Young Ben is one of only six people in the entire world diagnosed with this illness. Ben is currently undergoing treatment at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
Despite all of Ben’s trials and tribulations, he remains positive and looks forward to getting back in the kitchen and pursuing his dream to become an Engineer.
Members of the community have joined together to see that the life challenges that Ben has gone through does not derail him from reaching his full potential and fulfilling his dreams.
The #Love4Ben campaign was originally intended to support Ben and his family after the passing of his parents in 2017. Due to the generosity of so many, we were able to establish a trust fund of nearly $30,000 at Peoples Bank in Munster, Indiana.
We want Ben to be able to continue his education in the culinary arts and/or Engineering wherever he wants to in the world.
On behalf of Grandma Donna and Uncle Anthony, thank you!
When sharing Ben's story, please use the hashtag #Love4Ben!
- April Libiano
Trent A. McCain