DENVER (KDVR) – A young mother whose cancer fight inspired thousands of Coloradans has died at the age of 34.
Juanita “Janie” Marquez died just after midnight Tuesday morning at her home in southwest Denver.
Last Christmas, FOX31 viewers made the holidays unforgettable for Marquez and her three young children, donating more than $12,000 worth of gifts to the family after a thief stole gifts from their porch. He later returned the gifts, which had been sent by staff members at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital who had been treating Marquez.
Nevertheless, FOX31 viewers loaded the family home with groceries, gift cards and toys. Marquez feared it would be her last Christmas with her children, and she wanted to make it special for them.
Days before her death, she spoke with FOX31 over the phone to say thank you to the Colorado families who made such a lasting impression on her kids.
“Thank you so much for helping me,” she said.
The heartbreaking last few days were made worse, because most family and friends couldn’t be near her at the end due to coronavirus concerns.
The family will always remember the way Colorado comforted Marquez, a single mother, and her family during their last holidays together. Sure, they got lots of presents, but the biggest gift was knowing that total strangers cared. For her family, every day with Janie since last Christmas has been a gift. And if any family has learned the true value of a gift, it’s this family.
“Life is too short. Like they say, ‘un dia a la vez.’ One day at a time,” Valerie Ortiz, Marquez’s sister, told FOX31
The family has set up a GoFundMe account for college funds and to help take care of the costs of raising the children.