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Cathedral High students bid farewell to beloved janitor

By Ashlie Rodriguez, Reporter
Published On: Feb 25 2013 11:54:40 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 10:30:57 PM CST

Reporter: Ashlie Rodriguez

EL PASO, Texas -

Cathedral High School students said goodbye to a beloved janitor two weeks ago. Little did they know that would be the last time they'd ever see him.

On Ash Wednesday when hundreds of students gathered to say goodbye to Benjamin Sanchez, a long-time janitor who touched the hearts of everyone he met.

They made signs and sang their anthem to cheer up the man dying of cancer. But little did they know, even in the back of an ambulance, he cheered them up instead. 

Click here to see the youtube video of his last goodbye.

"We thought he was just going to pass by but no, the ambulance turned, crossing traffic and they opened the ambulance door and we just started yelling our cheers," said student Nate Armendariz.

The last time Cathedral students would ever see their beloved friend, mentor and janitor Benjamin Sanchez.

"It was an emotional scene," Armendariz said. "It was emotional for all of us."

Sanchez, nicknamed Benja, had been a janitor at the school since the early 2000's, encouraging students, giving them lunch money, and always lending a smile when they needed it.

Spokesman Ramon Macias said he had known Benja since he was a student at Cathedral.

"There was something always very different about him," Macias said. "A lot of organizations maybe don't know their entire faculty but here at Cathedral, not only was he very well known, but he was loved by all the students and faculty."

"In most schools, there's the kids that go through the cracks," Assistant Principal Michael Woznicki. "There's the kids we don't catch. And Benja had a special gift. He actually had contact with those kids who wanted to drop out, hated life, hated what was going on in Juarez. And he was the one to really stop and care about them."

But it was only last year they began to notice a slight limp. Benja later revealed he had terminal spinal cancer and by February 13th, he was headed home for hospice care. But not before making one last stop.

Benja died the next morning at home. Students and staff said, with knots in their throat, Benja may be gone but his legacy will live on.



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