The Chicago community is joining together to support MasterChef Junior star Ben Watkins once again after he was diagnosed with a rare illness.
The young cook, who lost both his parents in 2017, was diagnosed with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma just days after his 13th birthday, according to a statement from his family. AFH is an extremely rare soft tissue tumor that has occurred in only a small number of children and young adults. He is currently undergoing treatment at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.
The devastating diagnosis comes nearly three years after Watkins' parents died in a domestic violence incident ruled a murder-suicide in 2017, police told the Chicago Tribune. His father shot and killed his mother, and then himself.
At the time, Watkins had just finished filming season six of Fox's MasterChef Junior. When the season finally aired in 2018, people across the country fell in love with Watkins, then 11, and helped raise $30,000 as a trust fund for Watkins.
The GoFundMe campaign, known as #Love4Ben, is now being resurfaced by his grandmother and uncle who look after Watkins to help cover the cost of his medical bills and for his future schooling.
When Watkins appeared as one of the young contestants on MasterChef Junior, he wowed judges with his culinary skills and finished in the top 18. His love for cooking stems from his late parents, who owned a barbecue restaurant — and because the science behind baking coincides with his aspirations of becoming an engineer one day. "It's more reliable than being a chef," Watkins told the Chicago Tribune in 2017.
"Despite all of Ben’s trials and tribulations, he remains positive," the family said in the updated GoFundMe, "and looks forward to getting back in the kitchen and pursuing his dream to become an Engineer."