AceShowbiz - Former "MasterChef Junior" contestant Ben Watkins is dealing with another hardship, almost three years after his parents' death in a murder-suicide. The young cook is battling a rare illness, his family has revealed.
Ben was diagnosed with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma, a soft tissue tumor that typically occurs in children and young adults. According to a statement from his family, the teen received the devastating news just days after his 13th birthday.
Ben is currently undergoing treatment at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. His grandmother and uncle, who look after Ben following his parents' death, have started a GoFundMe campaign to help cover the cost of his medical bills and for his future schooling.
Ben competed in season 6 of "MasterChef Junior" and placed in the Top 18, when he was only 11 years old. He lost both of his parents, Leila Edwards and Mike Watkins, in September 2017. Police told the Chicago Tribune at the time that his father shot and killed his mother, and then himself.
Ben once said 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," he told the Chicago Tribune in 2017.
His family first launched the GoFundMe page after the family tragedy, raising $30,000 as a trust fund for Ben. "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," read a statement on the GoFundMe page. "Members of the community have joined together to see that the life challenges that Ben has gone through (do) not derail him from reaching his full potential and fulfilling his dreams."