LOS ANGELES -- Jaime Escalante, the Los Angeles math teacher whose inspirational career was made famous in the 80s hit movie "Stand and Deliver" is battling cancer. His family has run out of money to pay for his medical bills.
The Bolivian-born Escalante is 80 years old.
"Anyone who has seen "Stand and Deliver" knows how much Jaime Escalante (Kimo) has done for this country. 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.
The genius that he awakened in the "unteachable" commanded the attention of the entire world. It caused countless educators to reconsider what their students might really be capable of if, like Kimo, they could awaken the "ganas" (desire) in them. Jaime didn't just teach math. Like all great teachers, he changed lives. Gang members became aerospace engineers. Kids who had spent their youth convinced their lives didn't matter discovered they were leaders.
Now, Kimo needs our help. He is seriously ill, and the treatment he needs has depleted all the funds his family can raise. They did not want to 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.
I have been moved to tears to hear of the circumstances of this great man and am calling for a last National Understanding of his selfless contributions to "making a difference in this world."
Together, we have a chance to make a real difference in his life. 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."
Escalante taught math to troubled students at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles.
While some dismissed the students as "unteachable," Escalante was able to reach them and help them live up to their potential. He started an advanced mathematics program with a handful of students.
In 1982, his largest class of students took and passed an advanced placement test in Calculus.
Some of the students' test scores were invalidated by the testing company because it believed the students had cheated.
Escalante protested, saying the students had been disqualified because they were Hispanic and from a poor school.
A few months later, many of the students retook the test and passed.
If you want to help raise money for Escalante, you can send it to:
"Friends of Jaime"
236 West Mountain Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
Watch a snippet of actor Edward James Olmos as Mr. Escalante here: