Astros donating $65K to help build playground honoring fan who died of brain-eating amoeba

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Friday, March 19, 2021
Mother of 6-year-old amoeba victim tells his story
Maria Castillo tells about her 6-year-old son who died on Sept. 8 from complications due to a brain-eating amoeba. Josiah McIntyre loved baseball, outdoors and playing with his sister.

LAKE JACKSON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Astros are jumping in to help honor a young fan who died last September after contracting a brain-eating amoeba in Lake Jackson.

Josiah McIntyre, 6, died after fighting an infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, which is caused by Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic organism.

READ MORE: Mom details life of 6-year-old who died from brain-eating amoeba

Now, employees from Brazosport ISD, the district Josiah once attended, said they hope to raise enough money to build a playground in his honor at his former elementary school.

"The new playground will be Astros blue and orange with a baseball statue and a commemorative plaque," said the executive director of BISD's Education Foundation Brittany Rosenbohm. "Josiah's contagious smile and kindness left a lasting impression to so many people and especially to his Madge Griffith (Elementary School) family."

On Thursday, the Astros announced the team will be donating $65,000 to the district to help fund the playground. They even presented an oversized check directly to the school in Josiah's memory.

"We were deeply saddened by Josiah's tragic passing, and we are honored that we can help celebrate his memory by supporting this community and providing the funds to get this playground built," said Twila Carter, the Astros senior vice president of community affairs and executive director for the Astros Foundation.

According to the Astros, the donation should be enough to help fulfill the GoFundMe goal.

"We thank Brazosport ISD for their partnership, and we look forward to seeing this playground serve many young children for years to come," Carter said.

"It means the world to the students and the family, more than anything to the family. The mom came up here afterwards and wanted to see the check and was just giving thanks and praise to everybody here," said Andrea Ham, principal at Josiah's elementary school.

School leaders plan to display that oversized check at the school where Josiah's younger sister will soon attend.

They hope to break ground on the news playground by May.

"We're just so grateful. We reached out thinking nothing would come of it. I thought we would never get a response, much less a check. But we said 'Go big and see.' You never know what you can accomplish until you try for it," said Amanda Mohrman, Josiah's first grade teacher.

Following Josiah's untimely death, city officials investigated the possible source of the illness by testing the water samples at several nearby public facilities for any signs of contaminated water. It was then determined that two positive tests were in samples taken from a civic center water source and a fire hydrant. Josiah's mother said he played in the splash pad with the contaminated water in late August before becoming ill. It remains unknown where exactly the amoeba transmission may have happened.