LAKE JACKSON – The family and friends of a 6-year-old boy who died after suffering from a brain-eating amoeba celebrated his life Wednesday, one year to the day of his death.
“He was just always happy,” reflected Maria Castillo, mother of Josiah McIntyre.
Josiah contracted a brain-eating amoeba last year. The parasite was believed to have come from the City of Lake Jackson’s water supply, prompting a boil water notice and questions about the overall integrity of the city’s water supply.
According to health officials, a parasite, called naegleria fowleri, was in the water. Evidence of the amoeba was later found in other parts of Lake Jackson’s water supply.
“It’s crazy to see how many people, and mainly parents, that Josiah’s story has touched,” Castillo said. “You know the awareness that I try to bring and spread.”
Awareness of what happened to her son, and steps to take to lessen the likelihood of other children getting sick has become Castillo’s mission. Recently, she distributed nose plugs to parents for when their children play in water.
That’s how the parasite entered Josiah.
“If we can save one or 100 families, that’s what this is about,” Castillo said.
It’s also about honoring Josiah, Castillo’s eldest.
The family broke ground Wednesday on a playground at Madge Griffith Elementary School where Josiah attended. The Astros Foundation helped to cover the cost of construction.
One year after her son’s death, Castillo said she’s tried to keep a straight face, but acknowledges her days haven’t been easy.
“It’s a huge adjustment, a huge change,” she said.
Castillo said her pain has given voice to Josiah’s message.
“The temperatures here and the amount of lakes and rivers that we have, it’s very possible and it’s very likely, and it’s not as rare, I don’t think, as we really think it is,” she added.