Ben Watkins, a former competitor on the cooking competition show MasterChef Junior, passed away a year and a half after being diagnosed with a rare cancer.
The news of Watkins’s death was first shared via a GoFundMe page that was launched by his maternal grandmother Donna Edwards. The original goal of the campaign was to raise money for Watkins’s cancer treatments and his future education.
“Our Ben went home to be with his mother Monday afternoon after a year-and-a-half-long battle with cancer,” Edwards and Watkins’s uncle Anthony Edwards wrote in joint statement. “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.”
According to his GoFundMe page, Watkins was diagnosed with a rare cancer called angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma just after his 13th birthday. He was one of only six people in the entire world diagnosed with this particular disease. Watkins had been undergoing treatment at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and was considering pursuing a future in engineering.
Watkins was a contestant on the sixth season of MasterChef Junior, famously hosted by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. He was 11 years old at the time and placed in the top 18. Between the filming and airing of his season, Watkins lost both of his parents to a murder-suicide.
Both Ramsay and MasterChef have released statements in the wake of Watkins’s passing.
We send our condolences to Watkins’s family.