Residents of one Las Cruces neighborhood are in mourning after Ricardo Garcia, 7, lost his battle with leukemia.
Family and teachers who knew Ricardo told ABC-7 he was an optimistic boy who loved to learn.
His kindergarten teacher, Maggie Nunez, said he wanted to grow up and be a firefighter.
"He always had a smile on his face. His dad would tell me, 'I cannot keep him home.' Even though he was in pain he wanted to be in school," she said.
Ricardo also wanted to learn how to read and speak English so he could teach his father.
For more than three years, Ricardo fought leukemia.
His parents quit their jobs so they could take him to Phoenix for treatment.
Ricardo died on Oct. 24.
Now East Picacho Elementary School is collecting donations to help his family pay for funeral services.
Ricardo's mother, Patricia, said she will never forget her little boy.
"I have so many beautiful memories of my son. He was always such a positive little boy, in spite of his illness and his pain. He was always a soldier, very strong. He always had strength. He gave us strength," she said through tears.
To donate to Ricardo Garcia's family, take or send donations to East Picacho Elementary School at 4450 N. Highway 85. Donations will be collected until Dec. 14.