CLUTE — Josiah McIntyre had a headache on Sept. 3. Days later, the 6-year-old succumbed to a brain-eating amoeba.
“On Friday, (Sept.) 4, he started vomiting and having a fever,” mom Maria Castillo said.
His symptoms matched those of a viral infection, but when nothing had changed by Sunday, Castillo took Josiah from UTMB Health Angleton-Danbury Campus to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where he was admitted to the neurological ICU, she said.
“They were treating him for meningitis, for encephalitis and pretty much at this point, just trying to figure out what was wrong with him,” Castillo said. “Late Monday night, early Tuesday morning, they found out that it was the brain-eating amoeba … and he passed away Tuesday (Sept. 8), that night.”
In support of the family Josiah left behind, the community has rallied. Friends have organized a Benefit For Josiah McIntyre, which will be at 11 a.m. Saturday under the big pavilion at Clute Municipal Park, 100 Parkview Drive.
“We just wanted to get together and do whatever we could to kind of help the family as much as we could,” said Dee Silgero, a friend of Castillo’s and one of the organizers.
Organizers have been “blown away” by the support from the community, Silgero said.
“It’s so crazy to think about — a little 6-year-old has so much of an impact on a community,” she said.
The benefit will include $12 brisket and $10 chicken plates, all of which include rice, potato salad, onions and pickles, bread and a drink, Silgero said. Delivery is available for orders of five or more plates, and a Google Doc can be filled out at bit.ly/3ctfeZd to secure plates.
Prepayment options include PayPal and CashApp, and both accounts are named benefitforjosiah, Silgero said.
“We are just trying to raise anything that we can to help with the circumstances,” she said. “This was definitely unexpected and anything that we can do on our part to help relieve any financial strain, we definitely wanted to be there and to be able to help.”
Castillo and Josiah’s dad Anthony McIntyre have also both been blown away by the support they’ve received, they said.
“I am speechless,” McIntyre said. “It’s really heartwarming. It really is one of the big things that’s keeping me and my family in high hopes at this time.”
Castillo never expected it to get as big as it has, she said.
“I’m extremely surprised and extremely overwhelmed, and extremely grateful for everybody that doesn’t know my family or my son or me, you know, that they’ve come together and have been praying and have sent their thoughts,” Castillo said. “It really means a lot to us.”
Josiah was a student at Madge Griffith Elementary and a huge baseball fan, Castillo said.
Both Castillo and McIntyre are Brazoswood High School alumni, and since he was a year old, she took him to Brazoswood baseball games to see her friends’ brothers play, she said.
“Coach Cressman actually had the varsity boys go out to the field the other day, and they put Josiah’s name on the scoreboard and they had a mourning memory in honor of him,” she said.
With the help of Castillo’s friends, Josiah’s story caught the attention of Astros player Carlos Correa and his wife Daniella, and they sent video messages to Castillo, who was “honored,” she said.
“My son’s idol saying his name and talking about him and knows what happened to him — it really means a lot,” she said. “I can only imagine how many messages they get a day and the fact that they took time out of their lives to … say something to me and my family … for Josiah, even though he had already passed away, speaks volumes of them.”
Auction items for the benefit include a custom Astros themed fire pit from Brazos Pipe and Steel and an autographed Andre Johnson football, Silgero said. The auction will take place through a Facebook album that will go up on the benefit page, “Benefit For Josiah McIntyre,” at noon Friday, she said.
It will remain up until 3 p.m. Saturday for people to bid on items, she said.
Any funds raised will go toward funeral expenses and medical bills for Josiah, Castillo said. The family has also discussed the possibility of setting up a foundation in the future for brain-eating amoeba awareness, she said.
“It exists and it’s everywhere, but with the rivers and lakes and ponds, that’s really where it comes from and in the summer months is when it’s more active,” Castillo said. “The side effects — they’re so close to flu-like symptoms.”
They had never heard of it until they were the one in 72 million it happened to, she said.
“The more people that know about it, the more people it can save,” she said.