Beloved former Garfield High School math teacher Jaime Escalante inspired the 1988 Hollywood biopic Stand and Deliver, starring actor Edward James Olmos as Escalante. Olmos recently announced on his personal Web page the sad news that Escalante is suffering from cancer.
“He is seriously ill, and the treatment he needs has depleted all the funds his family can raise,” Olmos wrote. “They did not ask for help, but we took it upon ourselves to get the word out to all the country and around the world, to make his final days as comfortable as possible – and maybe even give him a chance to beat the cancer that has afflicted him.”
RadarOnline.com has learned that Escalante has stage four bladder cancer, with just months left to live.
Escalante, 79, taught math to troubled students at the rundown East Los Angeles high school known for violence and drugs where he successfully motivated students to reach their potential. Escalante received the Presidential Medal for Excellence and was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.
“The love and dedication he gave to his inner city students, and his unfailing conviction that every one of them was “gifted,” brought out talent that had been untapped – and unseen – by other teachers,” Olmos wrote. “Jaime didn’t just teach math. Like all great teachers, he changed lives.”
Olmos goes on with an appeal for financial help for Escalante saying, “I could not bear to think that we would do any less for one who has given so much for so long. You have my deepest appreciation for any and all prayers and help that you can give.”