C.J. Banaszek, the grandson of former San Francisco 49ers star and Casa Grande High School assistant coach Cas Banaszek, died Tuesday after a long battle with leukemia.
Casimer Joseph “C.J.” Banaszek IV became an inspiration to the Casa Grande football program and the entire Petaluma community during his illness.
The Gauchos dedicated their 2012 season to him as he led the team to midfield before games.
The 13-year-old suffered with a rare form of leukemia that was first diagnosed in early 2012.
He was treated for the disease at Benioff Children’s Hospital at the University of California San Francisco.
The youngster’s passing was revealed on his mother Heather Banaszek’s Facebook page.
She requested that her husband C.J. and the family be given privacy while memorial services were being planned.
“When he came home two weeks ago, it was with Hospice,” C.J.’s mother wrote. “An MRI showed that a fungal infection that he has been fighting for a long time has recently gotten dramatically worse. We brought him back to UCSF and we are happy to have the care and comfort that our second family can provide.
“He truly and honestly passed peacefully. Please give our family privacy during this time and just send your loving thoughts our way.”
C.J. was such an inspirational figure to the Casa Grande football team that place-kicker Matt Abramo started a fundraising project for him in 2012.
“I didn’t know C.J.,” Abramo said in 2013. “I felt inspired to keep playing because I was playing for C.J.”
C.J. loved soccer and other sports. He was an avid reader of the “Harry Potter” book series.
Memorial service plans have yet to be announced.